Rush moved to New York City around 1900 to attend the Art Students League. There, she studied with John Henry Twachtman. She remained in New York until 1904, when she moved to Wilmington to study with Howard Pyle. She, along with Ethel Pennewill Brown Leach, was one of Pyle’s favorite students. Not only did she enjoy a comfortable life in Pyle’s studio at this time, but also she was quite successful as an illustrator, working for Scriher’s, Woman’s Home Companion, Collier’s, American Magazine, and Good Housekeeping. For the most part, Rush remained in Wilmington until Pyle’s death. A 1909 letter from Ethel P. Brown to Rush indicates that the latter must have been spending blocks of time in New York that year, although it a pears that she considered Wilmington her residence.
Rush made two trips to England and France after 1912. She spent some time studying in Paris. By 1915, she was back in the United States and, again, living in New York. Scant information has been found about Rush from 1915 to 1921. According to her personal archives, she had studios in New York, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Santa Fe during this eriod. By 1921, she was a resident of Santa Fe. This move was prompted by Rush’s fascination with the Southwest, particularly New Mexico, which had begun as early as 1914 when the artist first travelled West.
In a statement for a catalogue, Rush wrote that her art was the product of a searching for the harmonious. After 1920, she mainly looked at the landscape and life of New Mexico and was particularly drawn to its “mystery and miracle.” Rush admitted being influenced by early Chinese and Japanese art, specifically their all-over patterning and “rhythmic vitality,” and
American Indian art.
The combination of Rush’s early work in illustration and the later Southwestern and non-Western influences helped to create her sensitive, narrative style. One is reminded of both Oriental and American Indian art in her many scenes of animals in their natural habitat. Subtle gradations of tone often colored outlined figures. Also, Rush used shapes of color, much in the manner of Japanese watercolorists, to delineate form. The flatness and patternin of colors within her carefully composed scenes created a vital portrait o f nature.
Rush was very active in Santa Fe’s community. She taught art to Indian children and encouraged them to work out of their own tradition. She also contributed to public art endeavors, including WPA murals and other public commissions. Rush continued to live and work in Santa Fe until her death in