1940 – 2020

Ruenell sculpting tall pieceRuenell Foy Temps was born in San Francisco on May 4, 1940.  She started sculpting when she was very young and went on to became a contributing part of the American Clay Revolution that started in California in the 1950s.

When World War Two broke out, Ruenell was placed in a child care home where she was the youngest and left on her own a lot of the time.  There, she discovered and activated her creative gift building homes and environments for the bugs and beetles out of adobe in the home's back yard.  This quickly became a passion as the structures became more and more complex.  She didn't realize it at the time, but she was teaching herself to believe in her God given gift and what it felt like to be proud of what she accomplished. 

Ruenell was freed from that home by her maternal grandmother when she was six and taken to live with her in Twentynine Palms, a high desert community east of Palm Springs, at the entrance to Joshua Tree National Monument.  You can see the influence of the boulder formations in the Monument and the vastness of her desert surroundings in many of Ruenell's sculptures and in her paintings and oil pastels.

When Ruenell was nine, she was making intricate clothes for dolls from patterns she developed on her own and went on to make clothes for herself.  Her ability to fashion patterns for complex forms later carried over into her ceramic work.  She earned and saved money for college while in high school doing alterations and tailoring at the local dry cleaner.  She was chosen to attend California Girls State when she was a Junior at Twentynine Palms High.  The moment Ruenell saw the U.C. Davis campus, where Girls State was housed, she knew that was where she would go to college.

Ruenell entered U.C. Davis as a Home Economics major with a partial scholarship from the Daughters of the American Revolution.  In her first semester, she took a design class in the Art Department as her one elective.  From then on, she became an art major.  At Davis she was fortunate to study with such acclaimed artist/instructors as Wayne Thiebaud and Ronald Peterson.   

Half way through her Junior year, Ruenell married, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she worked while her husband was getting established in his career. She fit as many community college art classes as she could into her full-time work schedule.  Ruenell was introduced to clay at College of Marin by Edwin Cadogan, head of the art department and founder of the ceramics program there, and was encouraged to spend all the time in the clay studio that could manage.  That is where her natural ability with clay was activated and grew.  It is also where she found her love for sharing her knowledge of clay with other students and renewed a long-time desire to teach.

Ruenell enrolled full-time at San Francisco Art Institute as a painting major, a bachelor degree being the first step toward a teaching credential.  She studied there with Tom Holland and Sam Tchkalian.  The latter introduced Ruenell to his friend, Peter Voulkos, who the University of California at Berkeley had wooded from another institution to establish the ceramics department there.  After getting her BFA, Ruenell applied for the master degree program at SFAI and was unanimously accepted by the entrance committee.  Shortly thereafter she received a letter of rejection which she found out later was because they belatedly realized she was female.  Based on what he saw in the ceramic work Ruenell did at College of Marin, Professor Voulkos cut through late application tape at U.C. Berkeley and welcomed her into his master degree program in ceramics. 

With her MFA in hand, Ruenell became certified to teach in California community colleges.  College of Marin welcomed her back, first as a substitute instructor and later on a regular basis.  There she taught design, painting, drawing, and introduced a class in materials and techniques.  She was asked by Thonos Johnson to fill in for him teaching his ceramics classes when he was laid up for most of a semester by an accident.

Ruenell left scheduled teaching to spend more time on her own work in her newly-built studio in west Marin County.  She continued to teach as a guest lecturer at College of Marin and conducted workshops at many California colleges and universities.  She was invited by Paul Soldner to spend the summer of 1974 teaching and working at his, then recently established, Anderson Ranch Center for the Hand in Snowmass, Colorado and did a six-week lecture tour of Australia at the invitation of that country's Art Council in 1987. 

Ruenell was an accomplished artist in both ceramics and two-dimensional work.  She switched between clay and oil pastels to keep her ideas fresh in both mediums.  Unlike her clay that evolved without considering what would sell, her oil pastels were designed to appeal to and were widely accepted and promoted by retail galleries and decorators.

Throughout her career, Ruenell's work received countless awards and was acquired by many institutions and private collectors.  Check out her resume page for more details.