SOAR55 Service Opportunities After Reaching 55
(A Program of Americorps Senior Corps)
SOAR 55 Volunteer, Ruth Segaloff, Learns Life-changing Lessons from Her Service Experience at MCI Framingham
The women in my journal writing group aren’t what you might expect. One might easily forget that this is in a correctional facility, if it weren’t for their prison uniforms and the presence of security staff. In January, 2011, I began a new program, the Therapeutic Arts Journal Writing Group at the South Middlesex Correctional Center. I’d led similar groups in the past, but none felt so satisfying, because they weren’t really needed or the participants didn’t want to be there. (Read more)
In January, 2011, I began a new program, the Therapeutic Arts Journal Writing Group at the South Middlesex Correctional Center. I’d led similar groups in the past, but none felt so satisfying, because they weren’t really needed or the participants didn’t want to be there. SOAR 55 has provided me with exactly what I was looking for on both counts.
In so many ways, the women are really my teachers. When I was late for our first meeting because I got lost, they easily forgave me “because we’re used to waiting,” and “we’ve learned to be patient.” My own impatience repeatedly causes me trouble, so they are good role models. Similarly, they’ve managed to find inner peace even in this setting where it would seem impossible. They tell me they are grateful for the opportunity that prison has given them–they’ve had to re-examine their lives, and have come to realize what’s most important; and it’s not money or success. Some are convinced that their incarceration has saved their very lives.
These women have had to confront the painful truths about themselves and why they ended up in prison. It takes courage to look so directly at one’s “mistakes,” instead of resorting to denial. They’ve been learning to trust their hearts and inner wisdom; to stand up for themselves and take responsibility for their own lives in stead of leaning on others. They’ve been learning to accept the fact that they have hurt others by their actions, and to appreciate this second chance to make things right.
These women, by their example, continually inspire me to be a better person, to learn from my mistakes, to keep things in the proper perspective and to never give up hope.
Three generations of Segaloff’s family have been storytellers, and this legacy was passed on to her. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, she joined VISTA, the domestic Peace Corps. She was stationed on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in Idaho, where she came to appreciate native traditions and art. After completing her VISTA service, Ruth attended Rutgers University, where, in 1969, she earned a Masters Degree in Social Work and moved to Boston.
For more about Ruth and her volunteer and art career, please visit her website at www.ruthsegaloff.com
Friday, March 22nd, 2013, 2:18 PM
“THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY: The Power of Self Delusion;” Assemblage; 17X24X11″
By Lindsey Davis
Boston, MA – Ruth Segaloff’s newest work comprises “Lest We Forget,” an exhibition at Galatea Fine Art on Harrison Avenue in Boston on view until the end of March. A collection of collaged conceptual pieces, the show is represented by 16 works that were mostly created especially for this exhibit and nine of which were made within the last year.
“My works are intended to evoke memories, beliefs and actions,” Segaloff said. “Sometimes I actually want to provoke the observer into a greater self examination that requires a response, or at the very least, begins the conversation.”
The exhibit is titled “Lest We Forget,” after one of Segaloff’s earlier pieces of the same name, that’s currently on view as part of the “Pursuing Justice Through Art” exhibition at the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell through April 20. The artwork has a worn white baby shoe at the center that’s featured to memorialize the thousands of worn baby shoes on exhibit at memorials dedicated to preserving the memory of those affected by unjust tragedy.
The phrase “Lest We Forget” is typically associated for the Holocaust, but Segaloff said it has a broader meaning for her: “George Santayana said it best: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ This reflects my personal beliefs, professional experiences and a strong religious tradition of social justice.”
In this way Segaloff’s works function as conceptual memorials, symbols and remembrances of society’s lowest points, but combining those with additional articles as a way of drawing comparisons between objects and time.
“For the most part, they represent a greater complexity and depth of feelings in my work,” Segaloff said of her current Galatea exhibition, “Often I don’t know ahead of time where I’m headed. I feel like a secretary taking dictation and I don’t know until the end what the work is really about.”
“Among my new pieces, “Through a Glass Darkly” best illustrates this,” she continued. “Through a Glass Darkly: The Power of Self Delusion,” features a bunny within the inner compartment of a safe that’s kept in a jewelry showcase atop an old wooden desk. On top of it all sits a very old camera, and the wings of the open jewelry panels hold purple flower petals and old gold rings on one side and tassels on the other, representing how different the outside of something can be from the inside.
“The title seemed to come out of no where,” Segaloff said, “If we view “the other” through a dark glass, we can’t see them clearly. Similarly, when we look at ourselves in a darkened mirror, our true selves are obscured and denial is possible. Thus, subtitle of this piece, “The Power of Self Delusion.” The subtitle could describe any number of situations where each side only sees its own projections. An example might be the Holocaust deniers,” or one closer to home, the Democrats and Republicans.”
(“Ruth Segaloff: Lest We Forget” continues through March 31 at Galatea Fine Arts, 460B Harrison Avenue, #B-6, Boston; gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday from noon-6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon-5 p.m. For more information call (617) 542-1500.)