Ruth Mountaingrove (born February 21, 1923) is a photographer and poet living in Arcata, California, in the United States. A lesbian and a feminist, she is known for her photographs documenting the lesbian land movement in Southern Oregon.
Early life and educationBorn February 21, 1923, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ruth Mountaingrove is the daughter of Edith Shelling and Herbert Daniel Shook. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Kutztown State Teacher's College in 1945, majoring in science with minors in English and Spanish. In 1946, she published a book of poems, Rhythms of Spring, and married Bern Ikeler. After nineteen years of marriage and five children, the Ikelers divorced in 1965. Mountaingrove joined the Philadelphia chapter of NOW in 1966, and worked to change abortion laws. She helped found Women in Transition, assisting battered women, and helped facilitate the first lesbian group in the city.
WomenSpirit magazine and Oregon Women's Land TrustShe met her future partner Jean in 1970, and in 1971 they moved to Southern Oregon, taking the name of the intentional community where they lived for two years, Mountain Grove. They moved to Golden, Oregon, where in 1974 they founded the quarterly magazine they published for ten years, WomenSpirit. They said their vision was "international and radical feminist. We wanted a cultural revolution—a total reordering of institutions and values. It was to be a modest magazine with grand goals."
In the spirit of removing "man" and "men" from her descriptions of her work, Mountaingrove and Tee Corinne led "ovular" photography workshops instead of "seminars" on photography, where "women could learn photography in the context of the Women's Movement, providing a means for the women to examine the differences between the way men pictured women and the way the women saw themselves." The Blatant Image (a feminist photography magazine) grew out of the ovular workshops.
They purchased land in 1978, called "Rootworks", where Ruth Mountaingrove published the book Turned on Woman's Songbook and a book of poetry, For Those Who Cannot Sleep. Between 1974 and 1986, Mountaingrove had "a twelve year period of photographing women in the lesbian community across the country as well as in Oregon." She photographed meetings of the Oregon Women's Land Trust, documenting their lives at OWL Farm, a southern Oregon lesbian land community providing "access to rural land in order to be able to live outside of mainstream patriarchal culture".
The Mountaingroves separated in 1985.
Recent worksSince her 1986 move to Arcata, California, Mountaingrove's art has shifted from documentary photography to more experimental darkroom and digital images through a process she calls "Drawing with light", exploring photography as an abstract artistic medium, "like sumi ink drawings, or in some cases like paintings". Her photography has been exhibited in California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, and she has held solo exhibits at three venues: Northcoast Internet, SHNEngineering, and The Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered Center.