Oral Histories

Interview of Ruth G. Waddy

African American artist. Founder of the organization Art West Associated.
African-American Artists of Los Angeles: Ruth G. Waddy
African American Artists of Los Angeles
African American History
Biographical Note:
African American artist. Founder of the organization Art West Associated.
Mason, Karen Anne
Waddy, Ruth G.
Persons Present:
Waddy, Mason, and Waddy's daughter, Maryom Ana Al-Wadi, intermittently.
Place Conducted:
Waddy's home in San Francisco, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located at the office in the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Karen Anne Mason; B.A., English, Simmons College; M.A., Art History, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
Steven J. Novak, editor, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed. Waddy reviewed the transcript. She verified proper names and made minor corrections and additions. Novak also prepared the table of contents, biographical summary, interview history, and index.
6.35 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The interviews in the series African American Artists of Los Angeles document significant African American Artists and others in the Los Angeles metropolitan area who have worked to expand exhibition opportunities and public support for African American visual culture. The series was made possible in part by support from the UCLA Center for African American Studies, Institute of American Cultures.
Childhood in Lincoln, Nebraska--Family background- -Parents move to Minneapolis--Enters University of Minnesota--Working her way through school as a live-in maid--Quits school and moves to Chicago.
Meets Richard Wright in the Federal Writers Project--Cultural life of Chicago in the 1930s--Move to Los Angeles- -Working as a riveter at Douglas Aircraft Corporation during World War II.
More on working as a riveter--Studies ceramics--Admissions clerk for Los Angeles County Hospital--Diagnosed as having epilepsy--Idea of organizing the first juried show of African- American artists in Los Angeles--Social value of art.
Rebuffed by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art--Creation of Art West Associated--Idea of collecting prints by African-American artists--Traveling throughout the country searching for prints--Criterion for selecting the prints--Building a personal collection- -Meeting artists--Marriage and divorce.
More on cross-country, print-collecting trip--Waddy's prints--Taking classes at Otis Art Institute--Learns to talk about art--Visit to the Soviet Union in 1965--Sightseeing in Russia.
Reflections on the sameness of people--Traveling in Europe- -Commentary on Waddy's art works--Creating a market for African-American art--Experimental methods--Africa and African-Americans--More discussion of Waddy's prints.
Waddy's artistic style--African-American-owned art galleries in Los Angeles--Co-editing Black Artists on Art with Samella Lewis--Activism and militancy--More on the artists involved in Art West Associated--Rising market value of artwork by blacks--Noah Purifoy.
Issue of whether there is a "black aesthetics"--Recipient of honors Philosophy of giving--Difference between training and thinking--Starting the Waddy Shower Cap Company.