Studio Visit with Richard Green "an artist in search of universality in humanity via communication"
October 20, 2016 by Laura Horne-Gaul
Richard Green is an artist who was born in Michigan, USA and has been working in the arts since the early 80's, coming from an education in Theater Arts/ Communication/ Visual Arts. Green has taught adult education in prisons and in Colleges and has been the executive director of two different art institutions all while continuing to create and exhibit his own work.
I recently visited Richard Green in his studio/home where it is apparent that he lives art, it is in everything he does from the arrangement on the dining room table to the ornately decorated and displayed female busts in the living room.
Green generally only works with found objects and is well known for his work with found textiles. Green says that, “textiles embody the same aspects/character of any art form - color, texture, design, content, intention. With a history of reflecting social, political and economic changes.”
Green shares a few of his more prominent experiences, “My careers were the result of my varied interests and taking advantage of opportunities. Doors always seemed to be opening for me. One defining moment in the development of my visual arts happened when I immigrated to Western Canada in 1975. I had accepted a position in Rocky Mountain House, AB to teach English and Drama. My hunting and gathering instincts took me to numerous small town thrift shops where I discovered and collected garbage bags full of antique and nostalgia clothing and accessories. I sold my collection wholesale to a shop in Edmonton. This pursuit continued when I relocated to Banff. Again a door opened. I used my abundant textiles to create fabric collages, submitted a portfolio and was accepted (all expenses paid) into an eight month studio program for fiber arts at the Banff Centre.”
Green continued to work at the Banff Centre after his residency was completed. He was hired to coordinate the opening of the Leighton Artist Colony then was the program coordinator for the Inter Arts program and finally assistant manager for the theater/literary arts programs. Green explains, “I was engulfed in a high level of creative (professional) endeavors. I met and worked with the best Canadian and international artists, writers, directors, musicians and experimental contemporary artists.”
Another defining moment for Green was when he received the Louise McKinney grant in 1990 to pursue new work. Green expands, “I focused on puzzle pieces to discover the intrinsic nature, symbolism of this simple yet abundant object. I started with a garbage bag counting some 30,000 puzzle pieces which I installed in a grid pattern on the floor and walls of my studio. It was meditative and engrossing. As a result, I created two original puzzle motifs mandala-like that represented a universal/accessible image. Snowflake, Aztec Calendar, Chinese Calligraphy. These images were scanned into a computerized embroidery machine and 1200 squares of fabric were embroidered at my command/discretion. No two were alike! These were installed in the studio puzzle grid to produce a walk through, three dimensional quilt.”
In 1998 Green returned to Detroit where he was employed by the Downriver Council for the Arts as the Executive Director. The Downriver Council for the Arts at the time represented nine suburban communities and over 200,000 citizens. “During my five year stint with the DCA in Taylor, MI I opened the first public gallery thanks to the generosity of the Masco Corporation and our Downriver patrons,” Green says.
Then he moved on to Wilson , N.C. (just outside of Raleigh) to what at the time seemed like a dream job. “Executive Director for a wealthy small town ($500,000.00 budget, eight on staff and facilities!) I was in heaven,” explains Green. “It took six months for them to hire me after an extensive search and I felt honored. Until I discovered that the organization had an annual staff turnover of 100% Too late! I enjoyed the time there and did some great projects and returned to Detroit after 18 months,” continues Green.
Green went back to teaching communications. “It was a low time in my visual arts career, no time, no space and little inspiration,” says Green. Until he retired and returned to Canada living off the Shores of Lake Erie just outside of Windsor, Ontario.
But moving forward Green’s “Hunter Gatherer” instincts seem to be bringing him, not into entirely different places, but augmented directions perhaps. Green expands, “I am currently working on a one man performance/improvisation based on the dynamics of communication and creativity. I am also curating an exhibition that will involve two dozen artists: working title, “Network of Bodies”. And, hosting Sunday Salons (at home) from noon to 3:00pm. Where I serve warm homemade artisan cinnamon buns.”
Green takes art beyond just the aesthetic engagement and is helping to expand the evolution of creativity in the area. From someone who has seen it all Green says that “artists shouldn’t take advice but just do it and sometimes show it”…. Take the chance and follow the opening doors there is always an opportunity and usually it is right in front of you...