#11 of #100NBartists - photographer Karen Ruet
*This post is a part of the #100NBartists series featuring 100 New Brunswick artists in 2017. Follow along on Instagram!*
Karen Ruet is a multi-faceted lady. A talented photographer, she also teaches photography at theNew Brunswick College of Craft and Design and runs the George Fry Gallery within the College. I've only met her once, but we've emailed back and forth about a hundred times about the "Pride of Place" show a few weeks back and from what I can tell she is a patient, passionate and generous person. Her photos are also really interesting! You can tell she lives and breathes creativity.
I love the line she has on her Facebook page, it seems to describe her well: Passionate about preserving: memories, friendships, wonderlust.
Karen recently showed a photograph as part of the faculty show "Pride of Place" at the Saint John Arts Centre which just closed, and I thought I'd share with you what she had to say about it. I love hearing the stories behind artists' work! Here is Jesus, Marys and Joseph, pigment print, 24" x 36", 2010.
Words and photos by Karen Ruet
I grew up going to visit my grandparents in Siegas, New Brunswick, between Grand Falls and Edmundston. It is a tiny farming village with one store. My dad grew up on a large mixed farm that of course had potatoes as its main crop, like most of the farms in that part of the province. There were all kinds of animals but the favourites were always the sheep with their huge wool coats and chickens with their peculiar and charming walk.
On Saturdays, the single street in Siegas would empty out as residents all travelled to the next small village down the road to attend mass at a glorious and large cathedral high on a hill in St-Anne-de-Madawaska. My grandparents were married there, and most of my father’s brothers and sisters. These days, sadly, we are also attending funerals in the stunning and awe inspiring work of architecture, and my Pepère and Memère are buried in the family plot in a graveyard down the hill and street.
Dad’s family was French and we were not, so everything about those visits was grand and mysterious. Everyone took great pride in their faith and religion. My dad was the youngest of three sons and also the second youngest of eight children. His mother wanted him to become a priest. Fortunately, the baby of the family, his sister Claudette found her calling and became a nun instead.
When my parents married it was a scandal because Mom was protestant. Being Catholic was part of the family identity and Dad’s parents decided at the last minute to actually come to their wedding in Fredericton.
We always attended United Church of Canada, but Dad never told his mother about converting. And thus, we attended mass whenever we visited.
The Catholic Church rituals and statues of saints and glowing candles were very foreign to me. I loved it all, and stopped in my tracks when I saw this scene in a window in Cabbagetown, Toronto while visiting friends on my annual sojourn out of Bubble Town (Fredericton). The light was golden, just before the end of day and seeing the sunlight on the multiple Marys, Jesus’s and Joseph made my heart sing. When I captured the scene to my satisfaction I realized that my friends had wandered far away from me down Parliament Street. Such is the life of a photographer, lost in memories and light.
Karen is also a founding member of the SilverFish photo collective, a group which is currently showing work at Government House in Fredericton. The show runs until March 30, 2017.
The SilverFish Photography collective also currently has a small show of black and white work in the Harriet Irving Library on the UNB campus.
Find out more about Karen: