Ruth Starr Rose: Revelations of African American Life in Maryland and the World

ruth starr rose


August 29-October 29 Fulton Hall, University Gallery

August 29-December 2 Guerrieri Academic Commons, Nabb Center, Thompson Gallery


Ruth Starr Rose (1887-1965) was a prolific painter, printmaker, and draughtswoman active on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. A white artist, she is best known for her thoughtful and honest visual interpretations of African American people in her local community. Rose’s works include scenes of Eastern Shore life and labor, visual depictions of “Negro” spirituals, and images of military heroes. This exhibition also includes archival material highlighting Rose’s correspondence with 20th century artists such as Paul Robeson, DuBose Heyward, and Mabel Dwight. The life of Ruth Starr Rose provides an interesting backstory to the exhibition. Her artistic achievements, which are largely unrecognized, include significant work as the creator of the largest visual representation of African American spirituals as noted in 1956 by Howard University Art Professor James A. Porter. Rose traveled the world and documented daily life and religious festivals of Native Americans in New Mexico and Florida. She was comfortable living among diverse people and created similar works with local populations of Mexico and Haiti. She left an important legacy of hand-written notes describing the people whom she portrayed, along with a collection of studies illustrating her creative process in lithography. Rose’s work has remained in obscurity because she was unjustly dismissed as an amateur, and misunderstood as a socialite out of touch with the local community. Rose struggled with her vulnerability in an isolated, male-dominated world and found peace with the African American community. The subjects of Rose’s work are recorded with a familiarity and intimacy seldom seen in early 20th century America.


Associated Events:

  • Reception: Thursday, September 8, Fulton Hall University Gallery Lobby, 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Lecture by Barbara Paca: Thursday, September 8, Guerrieri Academic Commons, Assembly Hall, 7 p.m.
  • American Spiritual Ensemble Performance: Saturday, September 17, Asbury Church, 7:30 p.m.
  • Exploring the African American Experience in Maryland, History Humanities Seminar with Aston Gonzalez & Creston Long: Saturday, October 1, Conway Hall 179, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.


Ruth Starr Rose (1887-1965): Revelations of African American Life in Maryland and the World was developed and organized for the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture by Barbara Paca, Ph.D., Guest Curator. Exhibition Tour Management by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA. This exhibition was underwritten by The Brown Capital Management Group, Inc. 


Some Press Coverage of the Exhibition: (click on the listing to read or hear the coverage)

The Washington Post, Kathleen Parker’s Column, October 8, 2015


Baltimore Sun, Arts Section, Sunday Paper, October 11, 2015

WBAL Channel 11, 5:30 pm NEWS, October 8, 2015


NPR Affiliate, WAMU, American University Radio, October 11, 2015


NPR Affiliate, WEAA, Hosted by Sean Yoes, October 6, 2015


NPR Affiliate, WYPR. Maryland Humanities Council

Scott Ponemone, Baltimore Artist and Blogger, October 5, 2015

Chespeake Bay Maritime Museum Paper, Art Historian Barbara Paca to Speak on the African American Community as Portrayed by Artist Ruth Starr Rose, October 15, 2015

Baltimore City Paper, October 13, 2015




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