Our family, having left their origins in Annandale in the Scottish Borders, have traversed and settled in many parts of the world. In a great many cases they have brought their own positive stamp to the neighbourhoods, regions and countries in which they live.
It is therefore always a great honour to share with you the lives of members of our family, from where ever they may hail.
In this instance it is an author and artist from Kentucky that we highlight today. Her published work is reasonably extensive and covers a real understanding of the folklore of the local region, while her artwork ranges from historical portraits, through still life, to landscape representations, all in all a very talented lady.
Having had the great pleasure of a lengthy conversation over zoom, let us introduce Jaquelyne Carruthers, Author and Artist to you all, a very a vibrant and interesting lady. As such we felt that sharing her life and works as a member of our family was appropriate and may well be of interest to others.
Q: Good Morning Jaquelyne, thank you for agreeing to do this interview with us for the Clan website. May I start by asking where you originate from?
A: Thank you, it is both pleasure an honour to do this interview for you. In answer to your question, I was born in Paducah Kentucky although both of my parents have roots from the deep south, they migrated up from the Natchez Trace to Smithland and Paducah before I was born.
Q: Do you still live in the area?
A: Yes, I still live within a four state area, which is connected by the four rivers; the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Cumberland and the Green rivers.
My family have lived here since or before Kentucky was a listed as a territory. Interestingly, our namesake of Carrutherville, Missouri is only about 1 hour drive across the river.
Q: What dictated your life’s path?
A: the path we walk has its own direction, where some things you can change and some you would never want to change.
When l was 18, l had earned a full scholarship at the University of Louisville but l married and had a daughter Danielle Carruthers, and she changed my life for the better.
Danielle is quite famous here in the USA in Track and Field. She won a silver medal for our country at the 2011 World Athletic Championships held in Daegu, South Korea. She ran in the 100m hurdles and set a new personal best on the day.
I’m proud to say, Danielle was inducted into the Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame November 3, 2017, a great and well deserved honour for her.
Q: So this put your education on hold for a wee while?
A: Yes, but I wouldn’t change it. It meant that I started my further education a little bit later and I attended Western Kentucky College/Paducah Community College, but transferred to Murray State University to study teaching. I then went on to attend Indiana Purdue University where I majored with an endorsement in Humanities and Communication. Although I hold certificates in both teaching and nursing, it was the latter job that paid the bills. I actually really wanted to be a teacher but there were no full time jobs. My passion therefore had always been art and I have been drawing since l was about four years old. My Grandma always said I had a strange gift as I saw things in great detail. As such I really wanted to share my passion and teach art in school.
Life is full of twists and turns, so in conjunction with my nursing certification, I was trained at both Baptist Health and Mercy-Health Lourdes hospitals, which are both in my area.
I also have two Degrees from Indiana Purdue University, which I’m honoured to say the Nuns paid for. The Nuns are based at the hospital where l worked for 32 years and were from the Sister’s of Mercy. I think they were based in Ohio but came to Paducah and started Lourdes Hospital In the 1950s. My cousin was a Nun of that order on my mother’s side of the family.
The emphasis of my degrees were in languages as I worked in communications as a Spanish Interpreter at the Hospital. I can speak Spanish, Italian, French and read and understand Latin. I have Associate and Bachelor’s degrees and a Teachers Certificate in the state of Kentucky, which I’m quite proud of .
But I’ve not finished studying yet, as now that I’m retired I plan on finishing my Masters degree, which is well on its way.
Q: I believe you are a published author?
A: Yes, I feel very lucky in that respect. It was while I was in Indiana that people at the university learned that I was skilled as a Folklore Storyteller. This in turn led to the university publishing my works. It was, as it worked out to be a positive serendipity, which led to the publication of 10 of my books on the subject.
As I mentioned before, I really wanted to be a full time teacher but life took me down a different route and I worked in the nursing profession for many years.
As I gained experience in the job I found, as did my employers, that I could move between departments and eventually transferred, just before my retirement into nursing telecommunications, which I really enjoyed.
Saying that I still managed in my leisure time from the hospital to give something back to the community and taught AP level art at local schools.
So what inspires you as an artist?
A: The inspiration for my paintings I feel comes from my own self-awareness and deep love of history and its peoples. I try to transpose onto my canvass subjects from the different time periods that have inspired me at the time.
I think this can be seen by the subject matter I’ve chosen in some of my paintings, which shows old fashioned hats and dresses, some from the Victorian Regency and some from the Antebellum (Pre American Civil War).
My Native American Heritage paintings gives me a great deal of pleasure as it allows me to reflect back to a far simpler time. The eras and the groups of people I paint, brings with them their own vast array of colours, shadows and perception. This offers an opportunity to study and paint using other techniques such as Chiaroscuro, which uses strong contrasts between light and dark or the Sfumato style which offers a smooth, invisible transition between colours and paint lines. However, I am constantly on the lookout for and researching other styles of painting and other cultures and people from around the world.
In fact our conversation and your information relating to our family and its Scottish origins, has allowed me to better appreciate that Carruthers is a very old and highly respectful family from the Border lands of Scotland, with a deep and colourful history.
Your understanding and the brief telling of its rich history was a joy to listen to and has made me think of adding it to my list of painting projects.
Interestingly, a similar history, although not as specific to Carruthers, was brought over and retold by the Scottish settlers,. This has been shared over the centuries, into our region of America.
As a breed, they were known as tough warriors and in some cases, were very well educated. Their influence in this part of the world, extends from Indiana in the north and down to South Carolina, as well as Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Kentucky. I have to say I am even more proud of my family heritage and who knows as I said, maybe it will be reflected in my artwork.
Q: I understand the Governor of Kentucky has praised your work?
A: Yes, at the hospital where l worked a Diversity Committee Board was created and l began exhibiting my art as well as teaching. As l travelled with my daughter l also became enthralled with Native American Heritage and started reflecting that interest in my portraits.
The Governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear noticed me and asked me to an art exhibit at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. He is a delightful man, the son of Governor Steve Beshear, who I believe Commissioned Dr George Carruthers, the Society Convenor, as a Kentucky Colonel. It is definately a small world.
Q. You are also involved in support and fund raising organisations we believe?
A: Yes, I am also involved with Kentucky Foundation for Women and on their Board, for which l received grants to pay for my art supplies and time. This allows me to go out into the community to share my passion and skills in art and to teach at three sites, two for the Paducah Senior Center and one class with mixed ages. I have finally become the teacher I always wanted to be and enjoy it immensely .
Q: Do you ever reflect on your life and achievements ?
A: Looking back on my life Danielle, is my greatest blessing, but outside of that, I will always be grateful and give the nuns credit for my education. I am also thankful to Indiana Purdue University for having faith in me and supporting my writing skills as an ‘Individual Prose Folklore Storyteller’. This of course led to my books being published.
Also to my Grandmothers who were always very supportive and whose story telling skills, which I feel I have inherited, had always fascinated me and piqued my imagination as a child.
Narrative story telling is a great tradition in Western Kentucky as many Scots and Irish had settled in our region of the state. This heritage has blessed us with a rich tapestry of stories of the Fae and other mystical beings.
As far as my artistic skills l was born with them it seems and l am pleased that this gift, in cohesion with I think being an inherently creative person, has allowed me to act as a catalyst for others to enjoy both my art and their own. As such and again I feel blessed in my life and I sincerely hope that my story brings pleasure and my works blesses all those who read and view it.
Thank you Jacqulyne for taking the time to speak to us. It is obvious through the explanation and viewing of your works that not only do you have a very in-depth knowledge and understanding of your skillset, but that you are able to transfer those techniques very ably onto the canvass and page and share that passion for the benefit and pleasure of others.
You are very welcome and thank you and the Clan Carruthers Society (International), which I am now aware is authorised by our Chief, for reaching out to me and for the opportunity to not only tell my story, but share my passions in life. I hope to visit Scotland one day and absorb that part of my heritage that you have kindly introduced me to.
This interview can be found on the Clan Carruthers Society (International) website and should not be shared without the permission of the author.