Wonderful Words of Life: The Fraktur of Roma Ruth

July 16 – October 9, 2023

Roma Jeanette Jacobs Ruth was born at Hollsopple, Pennsylvania on March 1, 1931, the second youngest of eleven children. She married John Landis Ruth in 1951, is the mother of three children, grandmother to nine, and great-grandmother to five. Into her nineties, Roma remains an active member of the Salford Mennonite Church in Harleysville.

Roma began her journey with fraktur in 1973 when she drew a fraktur-like greeting card for her mother, Trella Risch Jacobs’s, 84th birthday. Over the next 50 years, Roma created over 600 pieces. This exhibit honors the breadth of Roma’s corpus; her blending of artistry and text to mark significant life moments. It also includes reflections from some of Roma’s students and colleagues on the impact of her teaching and art.

A self-taught artist, Roma follows in the footsteps of the eighteenth-century schoolmasters at the Salford and Skippack Mennonite Meetinghouse schools who created rewards and illuminated texts for their students. Many of her designs are based on motifs used by the early schoolmasters which she interprets with her own sense of color, vitality, and joy. The vibrancy of Roma’s hand and pen shines throughout the exhibit.