Joanne Beaule Ruggles

Artist Statement

My goal is to communicate the human condition through my artwork—whether I am painting or drawing. Struggling to capture the feel rather than the look of my subject(s) as well as the soul rather than the surface, my art functions as a mirror that reflects our own humanity. I want that image to be large, revealing and even raw. Pleasantly skillful work does not interest me since it does not ask enough from the viewer or expose enough of the creator. I prefer work that records an honest struggle—an intense and often an awkward search.

Along with traditional artists tools, I employ a wide range of unorthodox implements including twigs, primitive dowel pens, trowels and abrasive materials in order to create the expressive marks needed. My artwork is often initiated by building a chaotic field of color, abstract mark and shape because I enjoy making order out of apparent disorder. I find this process has metaphoric relationship to life itself. We get the life that is delivered to us and then we try to make sense of it. This IS the human condition.


1970 MFA The Ohio State University, Columbus
1968 BFA The Ohio State University, Columbus


Joanne Beaule Ruggles is an artist and arts educator. In 2004 she concluded her 35-year academic career as Professor Emerita, Studio Art at California Polytechnic State University. Just prior to her retirement, Ruggles was named one of two recipients of the university’s annual Distinguished Scholarship Award.

She now devotes her full attention to her own and collaborative art projects, as well as offering occasional studio workshops. In 2005, Ruggles received an Individual Artist Grant from the James Irvine Foundation in support of the Indomitable Spirit Project she directs. Her work has been curated into the U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassies Program and her paintings have been exhibited in long-term installations in embassies in Freetown, Sierra Leone, as well as Luanda, Angola.

Since 1970, Ruggles’ paintings, mixed-media drawings and prints have been exhibited widely. Her work has been presented in over 30 one-woman exhibitions as well as being juried into several hundred national exhibitions during her career.

She has been represented in international exhibitions at venues such as The Museum of Modern Art, Rijeka; The National Gallery, Bangkok; The National Museum, Singapore; The Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sao Paulo; Americahaus, Berlin; Museo Carrillo Gil, Mexico City; and Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Ibiza.

Ruggles served as a reviewer of artist residency applications for the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony from 1988 to 2004 and has been a juror for the San Luis Obispo County’s Art in Public Places Commission. She has served on the Advisory Board of the SLO County Arts Council, the Board of the SLO Art Center and chaired the city’s Promotional Coordinating Committee. In 1975, she co-authored Darkroom Graphics: Creative Techniques for Artists and Photographers (Amphoto, NYC).

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