SMP Spotlight: Ruby Bassford Analyzes the Comparison of Women and Nature in Art and Literature

Ruby Bassford (‘19) has been working diligently for the entirety of the 2018-2019 school year to brainstorm, construct and revise a St. Mary’s Project (SMP) that focuses on the comparison of women to nature throughout literature and art. They has been advised by Karen Anderson, Tristan Cai and Jessye McDowell throughout the completion of their work.

Bassford has gone further to examine whether this comparison between the two is oppressive or liberating. In response to other authors and artists, Bassford has created their own book of poems and visual images. Bassford explained, “My poems and images deconstruct ‘womanhood,’ antiquated tropes and the innate connections of nature to women.” Bassford went on to state that their SMP includes non-binary, transgendered and other non-cisgendered individuals “and the complicated relationship one may have with nature in a world that deems them as unnatural.”

After spending some time in Ireland studying gender and sexuality, Bassford became more aware of a binary view of the world in much of the literature they were reading. “During this time, I came to terms with my own identity,” explained Bassford. This motivated Bassford to adopt this theme into their senior-year SMP. Bassford went on to state, “I also love nature and feel that art and poetry is a great way to communicate and explore through multiple speakers.”

Brainstorming for Bassford’s project began about a year before they started working on it in the Fall of 2018. Much of their time this past year has been dedicated to perfecting their project and preparing for the presentation at the end of the semester.

Throughout their diligent work, Bassford has overcome challenges which required them to push through and stay determined in their work. They remarked, “I have had to overcome personal difficulties I didn’t think I would have to face, and even though that put me about a month behind, I continued to persist.” These challenges have helped Bassford to grow both as a person and as an artist. Bassford continued, “I learned how difficult revision can be, but also how rewarding it is to have a physical copy of a book I wrote in my hands,” conveying that their blood, sweat and tears throughout the semester has paid off and has resulted in a beautifully crafted final product.

One of the more stressful aspects of their SMP has been the revision process and the art critiques. “It is always nerve wracking to share your work with other people, but I have appreciated all of the feedback I have gotten,” Bassford explained. Although the revisions and critiques may have been stressful, the hard work has produced a wonderfully put-together book containing poetry and images which ask their audience to consider the relationship between nature and women.

Bassford stated that they are “as prepared as [they’ll] ever feel” for the presentation of their SMP. Along with other English SMP students, Bassford’s presentation is to be held on Monday, April 29 at 2:10 p.m. in Glendenning Annex. They will also be presenting on Tuesday, April 30 at the Boyden Gallery in Montgomery Hall at 10 a.m.

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