Ruth Peterson

Ruth Peterson

Ruth was born in Bellingham, Washington in 1960. She moved to the Skokomish reservation and married the Skokomish/Squaxin Island artist Andy Wilbur in 1975. There they raised their three daughters and have been active community members since.

In the mid-1970s, Ruth was introduced to the traditional lifestyle and the arts of Salish culture from Skokomish basket makers Louisa Pulsifer and Emily Miller. With her move to the reservation, Ruth was exposed to intriguing Salish legends told by Skokomish elders. These legends still inspire and influence her work today.

Ruth’s formal training includes courses in metal carving, graphics, and tool-making from Steve Brown, who was the curator of the Northwest Coast native art at the Seattle Art Museum. Both he and Andy taught her the basics of northern style design and Andy taught her the Salish (southern) style. She has also studied informally with Makah artist Greg Colfax who taught her the West Coast style. Ruth has worked with her husband on hundreds of projects over the years. In 1990, Ruth mastered the art of painting, carving and steam bent boxes. At this point in her career, she started selling her art in galleries throughout Washington and Oregon.

Prior to her carving career, Ruth made baskets and designed and made traditional clothing such as dresses, shirts, button blankets, and more. Her current work includes silver carvings, bentwood boxes, spirit panels, drums, rattles, masks, totem poles, button blankets, and most recently, glass. 

Over the years, Ruth has taught and helped many community members to learn the art of basketry, drum making, graphics, painting, and carving. Andy and Ruth have taught their three daughters all the different art forms they know, and are now proud to also be teaching their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.