David Richards

David Richards
David Richards
The influence of disability in this work is subtle. His disability is visible; being visibly different as a child can construct aspects of the adult self. In Richards’s work the familiar detritus of childhood morphs into something funny and dark.
The Drunken Elf, David Richards - Embedded<br>
The Drunken Elf
Mixed Media on Wood,
36” Diameter x 7” Deep
1999
Permanent Collection of Access Living
Gift of the Artist
BIO
David Richards (b. 1952, Springfield, MA) received an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1981 and has been teaching at the school since 1983 as an adjunct associate professor. His recent work can be described as mixed-media relief that playfully combines abstract forms with images that sometimes evoke childhood—with a slightly sinister twist. He has work in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the American Medical Association, First National Bank, the Chicago Public Library, and a number of private holdings.

THE ART
Richards’s work shares certain core aspects found in the Chicago aesthetic: meticulous craftsmanship, a revamping of popular culture, and a wry sense of humor. At the same time, his work is utterly independent and unique. As with some other local artists, much of his work incorporates childhood objects, books, and cartoons. But rather than focus on the bratty nature of this kind of material, he creates haunting, alien, physical entities. These pieces resemble broken toys, game pieces that have come loose from their rules, and peculiar quasi-biological life forms. The painted surfaces look like worn wooden “teaching” toys that were tools for building the normalized child. Richards dismantles and recombines these pieces in ways that feel intrusive and alarming. Some shapes–and titles—have a sexual overtone. We witness the collapse of the imaginary “healthy” child into the complicated, rueful adult.

The influence of disability in this work is subtle. His disability is visible; being visibly different as a child can construct aspects of the adult self. In Richards’s work the familiar detritus of childhood morphs into something funny and dark. Perhaps a response in part to growing up in a body that could not hide.