© Ruth Lauer Manenti

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Ruth Lauer Manenti

Palenville, New York

Artist Statement

I live in a house that was built in 1940 at the foot of the Catskill mountains. A few years ago, Cassidy bought the house down the road which had stood empty for years, abandoned by its previous owners. She was homeless at the time. Though the house is small and in need of endless repairs, she loves the house. I was moved by her gratitude and one day on the road asked if I could photograph her. She said she could change her clothes, but I liked her in her work clothes. She welcomed me into her home and world. The time I spent and the photographs I made with her was meaningful and we enjoyed getting to know each other. Yet the experience revealed to me that what I wanted to communicate was essentially also in my own home, in that I also love my house. That insight became the beginning and idea for this body of work. When we thought about buying our house no-one else wanted it. Even the realtor was surprised. It doesn’t have a garage, a paved driveway, a basement, more than one bathroom or one bedroom etc. and for those reasons many people undervalued the house. It was also very cluttered when we looked at it, but I immediately imagined it empty and was floored by its inherent beauty. The house has small windows on all four sides that in daytime let in a gentle light that I feel is rare and special to this house. My life is going by quickly and I have lost many people close to me, and not, in ways unexpected or if expected, naively I did not see coming. I know that I will not live in this house forever. The house will hopefully outlive me, but I wonder if a part of me will outlive the house. I wish my dad could have visited, at least one time. My relationship to this home has changed since both my parents have died. Somehow without them the need for a place that I could love is more important. While creating this work, I had the sense that all the people in my life, still here or not, live with me in my house. Excerpts of their lives were flashing in my mind, and wanting them to linger I decided to write them down. It all seemed so fragile and perfect.

© Ruth Lauer Manenti

Ruth Lauer Manenti's Portfolio

© Ruth Lauer Manenti

Artist Biography

Ruth Lauer Manenti received an MFA from The Yale School of Art in painting and drawing in 1994. In 2012, she was given a large format camera and taught herself how to use it. Gradually she accomplished what she was striving for in drawing and painting, through photography. Her mother was also an artist who left behind a legacy of unknown work. Part of Ruth’s determination as an artist is to reward her mother for her efforts and to create a continuum. She was awarded a NYFA grant in photography in 2016 and had a solo exhibition at The Center for Photography in Woodstock, NY in 2020. Her book Alms was recently on view on an online exhibition at The Griffin Museum of Photography. Since breaking her neck in a car crash at the age of twenty, Ruth has developed a spiritual life and practice that has propelled much of her photographic work. She lives in the Catskill Mountains in NY with her husband and 3 cats.



© Ruth Lauer Manenti

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