Rujunko Pugh was born in Japan and is of African-American and Japanese descent. Her childhood was spent in California and North Carolina, and for more than 10 years she called Hawaii home. Today, Pugh is a Logan Circle resident and fine arts photographer making a name for herself in the D.C. arts scene.
Since moving to the District, Pugh has exhibited at Mid City Caffe, and her work has been part of the annual Art for Life auction, which benefits the Whitman-Walker Clinic. She currently has representation at Long View Gallery. In addition, she volunteers for the Washington Project for the Arts. Currently, her solo exhibition, “Color Temporis,” and selected previous works are on display at Logan 14 Salon until August.
“Color Temporis” relates to nature and also includes elements of science. Images she took of the Malva sylvestris flower and graffiti in Italy are integrated with letters of genetic code to create an interesting combination. “Color Temporis” and its seamless union of art and science is a true reflection of Pugh, an artist who holds both a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering.
When asked about her career change from biologist to artist, Pugh explained that the power of art compelled her to make the move. “I knew I had to close that chapter in my life when I wasn’t putting 100% into my job,” she said. “I was so distracted by producing art. It always came back to art.” Luckily for Pugh, her degrees have not gone to waste. “They provide another perspective on life and art. They’re just another element I can incorporate,” she said.
Although art influenced her to choose a new career path, it wasn’t the local arts scene that motivated her to move to the District. According to Pugh, “a crazy romantic encounter in Hawaii” brought her to the area, but she has been pleasantly surprised by what D.C. has to offer. “I love the arts scene here,” she said. “It’s a nice compromise coming from Hawaii and it really seems to be growing.
Her passion for art and photography also continues to grow as she starts on her next body of work. The art will be inspired by two topics she has always wanted to learn more about — political science and philosophy. In addition, she looks forward to continuing her volunteer work with The Vanuatu Pacifica Foundation. The Vanuatu Pacific Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by DJ Spooky (Paul Miller). For more information about Pugh, please visit her website www.rujunkopugh.com.