Ruth Waddy US, 1909-2003


"Art is not an intellectual exercise, approached through structured learning, emotions, styles, and practised [sic] in museums, galleries, and private 'collections'."


- Ruth Waddy

Willanna Ruth Gilliam was born on January 7, 1909 in Lincoln, Nebraska and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She lived near the Minneapolis Museum of Art, which was her first introduction to the art world.

Waddy was in her fifties when she turned to a career in art, and is known for creating black and white, small scale, linoleum cut prints depicting still life and quotidian stories about Black interiority.

Waddy embarked on a cross-country bus trip to gather works for Prints by American Negro Artists (1967), a project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. With Samella Lewis she edited Black Artists on Art (1969 and 1971). Waddy and Lewis are considered to be two of the "founding mothers" of the Black Arts Movement in California. Her 1969 linocut print, The Key, is considered to be one of the most prominent pieces in the movement.


- Courtesy of Black Women in Print