“Remember the movie Superman? My mom used to watch that with me. Her favorite was George Reeves, but my favorites are Christopher Reeve, Gerard Christopher and Dean Cain. I paint Superman because he is America’s Greatest Icon… I like Tree House Cats [Tree House Humane Society] because I used to call my mom a Mom Cat. She is my favorite. I’m a big fan of cats.” (Bradford, R.)
Ruby Bradford (b. 1984) draws and paints in a relaxed, bold style with unrepressed focus on her personal interests: Superman, Prince Charles, and cats. Bold characters and fantastical narrative seem to drive her, though the interest in Superman evidently runs deep. The artists’ mother explained that even at a very young age Bradford watched The Adventures of Superman on television incessantly, and that her first word – “super” was uttered while watching the show.
A deeply private person, Bradford uses these icons – and her favorite animal – as symbols for caring and belonging. As the artist explains, the “S” on Superman’s emblem stands for hope on his home planet. She thus combines her favorite celebrities or close friends with cats and/or superhero apparel, morphing the whole into a new reality. This is the highest honor a patron could receive from the artist, and Bradford’s one-of-a-kind whimsy is irresistible to her many followers.
Her other areas of interest include ceramics, puppetry, composing and recording music; she also volunteers at Tree House Humane Society. The artist’s mother passed away in 2012, and she currently lives independently in South Shore. Bradford started working at Project Onward in its inaugural year, 2004.