Ever-Evolving and Transformative Works in Wood, Clay, and Paint
I have been refining and transforming my techniques since the earliest days of my career. After significantly pausing my participation in the “art world,” I’m now embarking on a revitalization, seeking to once again expand the space art occupies in my life.
Video: Meet Chris Richard
My Mom was a gifted artist. She attended the national academy in NYC where she studied figurative sculpture. Most of her work was created in plasticine and later cast in bonded bronze. Her realism was impeccable. Her empathetic, inquisitive, tenacious and sincere nature gave way to some really beautiful and sensitive work. Ridgewood, NJ was my hometown. My high school had a full size ceramics studio with multiple wheels and kilns. Alice Mahoney taught ceramics and jewelry making there. She was knowledgeable, kind, patient and let me use the studio after hours. Her husband Bill was head of the ceramics department at Columbia University. Together they were a tremendous resource and inspiration for me.
I developed all of my technical fundamentals at Johnson State College in the Northern Green Mountains of Vermont under the guidance of Peter Heller, Steve Howell and Wally Mason. These were an exceptional group of artists. They exposed me to the works and techniques of Peter Voulkas, Don Rietz, Wayne Higby, Ruth Duckworth, Steven DeStabler, Toshiko Takaezu, and Shoji Hamada among many others. More importantly, I learned that through this academic exchange a successful and solvent life in ceramics was possible. Armed with the inspiration from my mentors and all of the working artists who were proof of this, I set my heart to join their ranks.
My time at Johnson State College was not only a foundation for my technical skills as an artist, but it showed me that a solvent and successful life in ceramics was possible.
Finding My Path
I began a two year independent study with Hideo Okino at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Hideo was humble, smart, generous, quiet, funny. Simply by working around him I began to clarify my aesthetics. He wouldn’t teach, we would just talk, sometimes at a bar and sometimes while working in the studio. I don’t know if it was maturation, working with Hideo or past influences taking root, but my work took a turn past technique and began to communicate those things that had resonated with me. After years of commuting from Johnson VT to Burlington VT, sleeping in my van in sub zero temperatures in the parking lots of UVM, I graduated with a BFA and the departmental honors award in 1981 with sights set on graduate school.
Entering The Art World
In 1981, I entered a two-year MFA program at Edinboro University. It was a transformative time. I was able to completely devote myself to making art without thinking about making a living. It’s where I further honed my skills as a potter and sculptor. I was surrounded by a group of focused artists who all had different strengths. We went deep into architecture, art history and contemporary art. It was the perfect launch site for a career as an artist. In my last year at Edinboro, I began to exhibit my work in juried shows and galleries. I had a solo show at the Jackie Chalkley Gallery in Washington DC that sold out and helped to finance my first Studio. There were too many life changing experiences during this time than I can recount, and so many things that influence us. Suffice it to say, we all are the sum of our experiences; how we translate that into who we are or how we express ourselves is the key.