Jaime and Jeff Rugh

Within the Rugh family, wonder leads the foursome into new explorations. Jaime is an artist working with paper and textile and an accidental teacher, while Jeffrey is a painter who also works for Prada. They settled in South Orange, NJ with their two children, after stints in Los Angeles and in New York City. Their open process of continually finding ways to integrate family and work has created a steady group of collaborations and new communities. Below they share their process and some of the friends they have met along the way.

Our house is a 131-year-old navy blue small folk Victorian for which the front door in our three-year ownership has gone bright green to deep orange and soon, maybe, black. We move and rearrange our things repeatedly and often make unconventional design based pairings based around our different tastes. And then we find the need to constantly refine the uses for our home. We began home schooling our daughter over a year ago, which is something we thought we’d never do but rather instantly found it a match for our lifestyle and our daughter’s style of learning. Our ideal is a home where a child can wonder and investigate.

Our days are an adventure stemming from an idea, a jumping off point and we go hunting inside our home and out for illustrations and reinforcements; variations on a theme.

We try and keep our lifestyle organic, fluid, often imperfect, and sometimes a mess. Perhaps our ideal workspace might have a robot solely programmed to clean up after us although surely an example is to be made of cleaning up the fallen confetti of snow-like cut paper from our dining room floor.

We allow our children to explore our work and our studios in the same way we do our yard or any playground. Everyone in the house is entitled to access of books, baking material, puzzles, musical instruments, dress up clothes, art supplies, and science projects, dolls, cars, trains, and fake money. We like to use children’s art materials in tandem with professional artists materials. Jaime assembles quilts on the floor of the kitchen, while Jeff has extended the size of his studio desk so our daughter Charlie makes her own paintings beside him. Additionally our idea of studio often extends into the beyond. Nearly every day Jeff reads and does research for his art amongst the fellow riders on the NJTransit train into the City. We work in fits and starts chipping away at projects as time allows.

We are fortunate to be present in our lives and as we have changed so has the work we make. In 2001, we started a New Year’s edition project inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s annual “LOVE” New Year’s card. Since the arrival of our children, the card has taken on new forms and directions, less about our art and more about the things that make up our children’s lives.

We embrace a collaborative approach to art and project making, thus we have always sought out people and families who work together, create editions and yearly projects. The Dolphin Studio in Stockbridge, Massachusetts creates a calendar designed by several members of their family, including the very young. We especially love the songs our friend Dan Zanes sings with his daughter, Anna, and his approach to music making. With a wild spirit and assortment of musical friends, young and old, he brings varied talents together from all the distant places of this world.

Last year we used a lyric from one of his songs on one of the posters we produce in our family workshop. Most recently we produced a series of silk screened posters that are meant to embrace and reflect on the lives of those we know who are on the Autism spectrum.

For us, ideal workspace as a term seems problematic as it suggests a fixed outcome or an answer. Our live/workspace extends beyond our home, out into the uncertain world and back again.