Jennifer Ruggiero | Ep 67

An independent study project at a local high school fueled Jennifer's passion for photography. Frequent trips to protest and social justice meetings in NYC with her older sister had her snapping photos of the likes of Abbie Hoffman. A gifted musician, Jennifer put her camera down, picked up the alto sax and flute and was playing alongside jazz greats in NYC. While at Leonard Davis Center for Performing Arts, Jennifer met her husband, also a musician. They moved out to Los Angeles, initially staying with family. In this episode, Jennifer describes they racism they faced as a mixed raced couple in search of housing. Eventually, they had three children and Jennifer needed to step away from the music career and rekindled her love of photography. It was something creative she could still do while raising the kids.

Sometime in the 1990's, while the kids were in school, Jennifer, a single mom of three, took a day trip out to Joshua Tree. She describes it as a spiritual awakening as she gazed at the beauty and reveled in the silence. She continued to visit, each time a little bit longer, staying at the 29 Palms Inn, among other places. During an Art Tour weekend, Jennifer found herself in Wonder Valley, eventually purchasing a cabin that would be her go-to get-away from LA for nearly 12 years.

With the kids out of school and on their own, Jennifer made the decision to move to the desert full-time. Through the connections she made during those 12 years as a part time resident, she is now very involved in the hi-desert art scene, curating shows for the Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council, 'Art in Public Places' and the 29 Palms Inn.

Photo: Jennifer Ruggiero - Self Portrait

Take a look at some of Jennifer's work on her website or follow one or both of her Instagram accounts: