I’m dedicating my new cycle of costal paintings to the memory of Ruth West Coombs and all ‘other’ islanders whose stories & histories yet remain to be told. I’ve spent most summers and many winters on Nantucket, over the past 27 years, and until very recently knew little if anything about these others’ histories.
Hats off to Nantucket Historical Association & Museum of African American History – Boston and Nantucket for attempting to re-integrate their stories back into the psyche of a culture that resides on their native land.
Homa Taj, Untitled (Ruth West Coombs), ink and acrylic on canvas, 12×12 ins, 2022.
Nantucket-born Ruth West (1895–1964) was an artists – a singer and a concert pianist – who was descended from Martha’s Vineyard Wampanoags at both Aquinnah and Chapaquiddick. “She was a member of the Federation of American Indians and performed around New England as Princess Red Feather, ‘the singing princess.’ According to her obituary, ‘She was a descendant of the Indian Chief Massasoit and was a pianist as well as a noted singer. She started piano lessons at the age of nine and when a young lady studied voice in New Bedford.’ She married Mashpee Wampanoag Darius Coombs, who moved to Nantucket with his brother Otis. They are all interred in a family plot in Prospect Hill Cemetery (text courtesy @ACK history).”
More about Wapanoag First Nation Americans https://wampanoagtribe-nsn.gov/wampanoag-history
The Other Islanders is a growing body of portraits to be exhibited as a single work. Commissions accepted for individual portraits. For all inquiries, please contact.