Skip to main content

Ruth Reeves Papers, circa 1880-1967

Biographical Note

Ruth Reeves (1892-1966) was a textile designer, educator, and painter active in New York City, New York and India. She is known for having designed rugs for Radio City Music Hall.
Ruth Reeves was born in Redlands, California in 1892 to John Chapenou and Jennie Martafel Reeves. First, she studied art in California but moved to New York City to attend Pratt Institute in 1911. In 1913, she earned a scholarship to the Art Students League. Her formal art education focused on painting but due to finances, Ruth left school and took freelance jobs as an illustrator and textile designer. In Paris, she worked as an illustrator for Fairchild Publications and remained in Paris to study under Fernand LĂ©ger.
Reeves' first exhibition was with The American Designers' Gallery where she showed textiles. She experimented using screen print and vat dye techniques to create household textiles. In addition to her design career, Reeves served as national supervisor for the Index of American Design under the Federal Art Project and taught at the Cooper Union. In 1956, she accepted a Fulbright grant and moved to India to study Indian textile techniques.
Ruth Reeves married Donald Robert Baker, with whom she had three daughters. Ruth Reeves died in 1966 in New Delhi, India.