Story of Ruth


Completed: July 8th 1991
Edition of 280 prints, signed and numbered by the artist
Dimensions: Image: 21¼” x 27¾”
Paper: 27¼” x 34¾”
Velin Arches Blanc, mould-made 100% Rag, acid-free paper
Serigraph with 48 colors printed


Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you!
For wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, 
Your people shall be my people and your God my God.
Ruth 1:16

The Story of Ruth is a journey, a testimony to move forward boldly, that we can take our part in the larger picture of God’s plans. What prompted Ruth to take this journey with Naomi? She knew that she would be among strangers in the city of Naomi, not welcomed and mistreated. Also there were the dangers of this long journey of many miles by two uprooted women. Ruth trusted Naomi, listening to her plans, even though she was unfamiliar with their customs and language.

Swanson studied this book, considering which points in the story would be the most visual. In spring of 1990, he began sketching and drawing. He completed the painting late that summer.

The Story of Ruth connects us with (and helps us to reconsider) our ancestors and our histories. The twelve panels are unified into a single image through a continuity of horizontal lines: in the first four panels the hills, then of barley fields in the second row of panels, and finally the patterns of the arches in the third row. Each of the episodes is saturated with warm, rich colors, patterns, and embellishments of gold and metallic inks.

The Book of Ruth is a beautiful and ancient narrative, but still tied to the contemporary in its content. Through the individuals in the story, we can learn about compassion, tolerance, commitment, bonding, generosity, the feminine, respect, closeness to the earth, and love. This is a story of refugees and very poor people. Each time we retell the story, we can find encouragement for our present day lives.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
E.E. Cummings, 1952