Ruth Santee

Art Faculty Exhibition



Ruth Santee, a Northern California based artist, was born in Denver and grew up in Aurora CO. She currently lives and works in a converted church in Stockton California. Ruth Santee is a tenured professor at San Joaquin Delta College where she teaches printmaking, Color Theory and 2D Design.
After leaving Colorado, Santee received her BFA from the College of Santa Fe and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Ruth Santee studied with artists David Barbero, Doris Cross, Joel Fisher, Pegan Brooke and Mark Van Proyen.
Santee’s art has an out of the ordinary way of cutting to the core of our humanness. She playfully juxtaposes elements of reality with surrealism. Insects, plants and flowers adopt human narratives in her unique papier-mâché sculptures of found papers and recycled junk. Santee creates characters that could have come from a quirky children's book, while other times they seem more like pages from a secret diary.
Her work has appeared in exhibits throughout California and the United States, including awards from the Murphy Cadogen Fellowship and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Santee’s artwork can be found in the permanent collections of the University of Oregon in Eugene, the David Brower Center, Berkeley, and the US Forestry Service.

Artist Statement:

“In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.”
― Okakura Kakuzo

Like Surreal cartoon characters, my paper maché flowers question our notions of self and who we are collectively. Politics, sexuality, gender identity, depression, feminism, and environmentalism are all undercurrents threading throughout my work
Why Flowers?  Flowers remind me of people. Comparably they are similar in that they have a head, a face, a central trunk/stem, limbs and roots for legs. Flowers share our patterns of sleep; they respond to the sun like we do. Like us, plants have a destiny to fulfill.
When I create flowers, I use a variety of materials, sourced from junk mail, sketchbook pages, secondhand stores and the trash. Other materials include discarded cardboard tubes, labels, toy parts, dried gourds from my garden, and random found objects. The color palette of my work is not subdued nor subtle. It’s loud, bright and harkens back to the colors of my toys from the 1970’s i.e. Barbie pink and Easy Bake Oven blue.
I usually do not begin a piece with a specific narrative in mind. The narrative of the work usually reveals itself to me. The Gestalt of finding it, embellishing it and refining it, is currently how I think and work.
I live and work in a converted church located in the Central Valley of California. My studio is the place where I can let go of the constraints that life places upon me. It's the place where I am truly myself.


New Shoes Daisy, 2022
Mixed Media


Addiction Daisy, 2022
Mixed Media


Second Chance Daisy, 2022
Mixed Media


Standing Strong Daisy, 2019
Mixed Media


Talking Without Talking Daisies, 2020
Mixed Media


Too Tired Daisy, 2021
Mixed Media


Millennial Daisy, 2020
Mixed Media