Interactive public art installation debuts in Nevada City |

Interactive public art installation debuts in Nevada City

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For more information on Ruth Chase and I AM HERe, go to

“Belonging — a place that allows me to be who I am.”

The sentiment is inked on a tag, signed with a heart and hung on the interwoven manzanita branches of the I AM HERe art installation currently attracting curious glances from passersby in Robinson Plaza.

The interactive piece of public art is a “pop-up” of sorts, designed to be ephemeral. A public opening will tie in with the inaugural First Friday Art Walk in Nevada City June 7 and the structure will remain on site until June 17.

“The tags are … an opportunity for you to have a voice, to be seen,” explained artist Ruth Chase during an opening ceremony Thursday. “We might all have different points of view. This is meant to showcase that.”

I AM HERe is the second phase of a multimedia project initiated by Chase last year. In the first phase, she explored what it means to be a part of a community, interviewing 10 diverse subjects unified by the land to which they have dedicated their lives.

I AM HERe focuses on how women find and maintain their sense of belonging in a changing rural landscape. During the year-long project, Chase worked to elicit perspectives through the use of social media, meet-ups and a short film, culminating in the public installation.

Monica Hughes of Naked Tree Woodworking and Sally Peterson of Funky Yard Art built the structure, an upright triangle with solar powered lights and a water feature in the center. The installation also features interactive QR codes that allow viewers to access and watch short video clips filmed by the participants that reflect on their perspectives of “belonging.” Paper tags are available for viewers to write on, that can then be tied to the “branches” of the structure.

On Thursday, Elisa Parker and Kimberlee Evans reflected on what it meant for them to participate in the project. Parker, noting that it can be difficult to thrive in a small rural environment, said, “Now I have a whole new group (of women) that I can say, we have each other’s backs.”

The experience “changed us on a level it is hard to find words for,” said Evans, a third-generation Nevada County resident.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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