Role Models + Influences
Whether we are aware of it or not, whether we are creative or not, we all have role models that often influence us in our personal and professional lives. For an artist, more times than not, that influence is usually from another artist.
For Katy, it's the artist Betty Tompkins. Tompkins has been making her work for decades without receiving the recognition the work deserved until recently. She is someone Richards' admires because of her perseverance and dedication to her practice and not to mention that her paintings are badass! The same can be said about Katy. In a recent review, Shawn Mishak of Cleveland Scene Magazine states:
How do you balance time in the studio with other commitments?
"I’m huge with to do lists. I plan daily lists and monthly goals. I have to be very strategic about how I use my time so I am able to accomplish what I need to get done in the studio."
How do you feel your practice has changed over time?
"I feel more sure of myself, not overly questioning my decisions, and trusting the process more. The best thing about my medium is if it doesn’t work out I can just paint over it. It's very liberating. I’ve always been interested in creating different surfaces and have been exploring different ways to handle the paint. At times I focus on accuracy and representation and other times I am more focused on mark making and a looser approach. My palette and understanding or color has changed throughout the years. I try to limit my palette with an average of five or six colors plus white. Sometimes I’ve just used 3 colors plus white to make a painting. I’ll switch up the colors I choose for different paintings, but this simplification of less has led me to create more complex color relationships. Sometimes less is more. My practice is always evolving."
I still remember when I was first introduced to Richards' work. For those of you that don't know, my day job is working as a gallery manager, graphic designer and photographer for HEDGE Gallery, located inside of 78th Street Studios arts complex. Kicking off "Artists in Cleveland" with Katy only felt right to pay tribute to a Gallery and an artist I have had the pleasure of working with for the last few years.
In her August 2020 show, "See Myself Something Different", Richards exhibited a series of seductive oil paintings with a remarkable photorealistic sensibility that focused on tightly cropped images of the human figure that were both candid and erotic, celebrating our flesh and all its strangeness, imperfections and beauty, with an objective to remove any notions of shame that surround the body.
I not only had the opportunity to experience this incredible body of work in person, but I also assisted in the curatorial/installation process and even submitted an image of myself to be painted and included in the exhibition.
Considering that this exhibit took place in the midst of a pandemic, going from a time of being secluded inside our homes to then the required to wearing masks and maintain 6 feet when in public, Katy’s paintings couldn’t have been more relevant. Gallery Director, Hilary Gent stated "It was a time where many we're sensing their skin rebelling against seclusion and craving human interaction...this exhibit boldly addressed the necessity of social and emotional touch and how it affects our emotional state of mind."
It's been absolutely wonderful witnessing first hand the evolution of Katy's work, and I can't wait to see where her explorations take her next!
Katy Richards, "See Myself Something Different" Exhibited at HEDGE Gallery in August 2020
Her current exhibit, Pocket Full of Posies, highlights a body of work that Katy has been creating over the last four years experimenting with form, depth, subject matter and perspective.
The Role of artists in society
I am lucky enough to have seen first hand how art and artists can have an impact on a society, and am truly grateful to have experienced the importance of living with art. According to Artwork Archive, "Creative thinkers and makers provide their communities with joy, interaction, and inspiration, but they also give thoughtful critique to our political, economic, and social systems — pushing communities to engage thoughtfully and make steps toward social progress."
To Katy, the role of the artist is to create something that engages with people. "Art has the ability to connect with people on multiple levels politically, spiritually, emotionally and phenomenologically. It fills the gaps of communicating the human experience where words fall short." When it comes to the art scene in Cleveland, Richards' elaborated that seeing art stimulates creativity in others and can be a uniting force in a community. "It’s also pleasurable and creates a rich culture. Art in Cleveland has been beneficial in contributing to the city’s economy and creating a strong and growing community of artists and art appreciators."
In the Cleveland art community there is currently great deal of conversation happening around spaces for artist to create and exhibit, especially after the closing of the Art Craft building in Downtown Cleveland displacing dozens of artists so the space can be turned into a headquarters for police. When asking Katy how she would like to see the art scene in Cleveland evolve she commented, "There’s a lot of buildings being under utilized. I would love to see more galleries, more spaces for pop up exhibitions, and art studios to move in. I would also like to see more opportunities to connect with other cities, especially other cities in the midwest."
So What's next for katy?
While Richards doesn't necessarily have any "dream projects", she is constantly dreaming up ideas for future paintings. There's not just one project in particular that's on her mind, she is always thinking of multiple projects for paintings.
Her current solo show at HEDGE Gallery “Pocket Full of Posies” will be up until this Friday May 5th and will then have a solo show at Fawick Art Gallery at Baldwin Wallace University in the fall of 2025.
Currently, she is working on still life paintings and has started doing studies on paper for future paintings. In these studies, she is continuing to experiment with using pattern, layering space, and using different styles of representation.
One thing about Katy that you might not have known before this, is that if she could have any super power in the world, it would be to fly. "Like most children I have always wanted to fly. I still think that would be an awesome super power. Flying would be exhilarating."
To that I say, continue to soar Katy!