June 2, 2011 in Washington Voices

Artist Carl Richardson gives voice through work

Jennifer Larue
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

Left: “The Spectacle,” a screen-print self-portrait by Carl Richardson.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Art quote of the week

“May we, as image makers, shapers of the culture, set our sights on things we value, rituals we engage in that heal and serve. May our images honor the ordinary endeavors of common people, and may they make their way to the eyes of the weary – light to the dark, fire to the chill.”

Jan Phillips, author and speaker

On the web



Carl Richardson, the youngest of eight children, is a man of few words.

Perhaps he allowed his siblings to do most of the talking as he listened and observed. His father was in the military and they traveled from Delaware to Florida, to the Philippines then back to Florida. What remained constant was family, a thing important to Richardson, and what was fostered was his ability to communicate without saying a word. “Because words fail, I choose paint, ink, canvas, paper, film, pen, charcoal and/or a squeegee to give a voice to thoughts, feeling and emotions within me,” he writes on his website.

Richardson, 44, earned an associate of arts degree from Okaloosa-Walton Community College in Florida, a bachelor of science in fine art from Florida A&M University, and a master of fine arts from Washington State University. He teaches in the art department at Spokane Falls Community College. A current project has students turning a soon-to-be-demolished building on campus into a visually stunning art space.

Richardson’s work includes layers of images printed onto paper, wood or glass. Some images remain intact while others break down, becoming something else entirely with hints of what was. He also uses text, often from favorite songs, that forms the dark space of images or serves as a background. His images are simple and stunning, filled with voice yet eerily quiet.

Richardson has exhibited his work many times over the last 20 years. Late last year, he became a member of Saranac Art Projects, a local nonprofit cooperative gallery space at 25 W. Main Ave. Different from other galleries, the Saranac is funded by membership fees and donations so their exhibits are less commercial, less focused on matching someone’s couch and more focused on acting as visual catalysts for social change, intellectual dialogue or thinking outside the box.

Through June, Richardson will be exhibiting new works alongside Dani Pavlic at the Saranac. The show is called “Parfait” and was named as the two brainstormed. “The donkey in ‘Shrek’ mentioned that ‘parfait has layers.’ ” Richardson said. “So does our work.” While Pavlic’s work subtly addresses social and political issues in Guatemala, Richardson’s work subtly addresses his own personal issues, with fractured and layered images.

“Parfait” will open with a reception on Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m. Today, Saranac is hosting a pre-opening benefit from 6 to 8 p.m. Proceeds will support construction of a wing at a home for abandoned elderly people in northern Guatemala. A limited number of artists’ prints will be given to donors. Both events are free and open to the public.

About creating art, Richardson said, “I like the fact that I can sit down and create something that didn’t exist before I decided it should. I like getting lost in trying to figure out how to make something work. I like the discovery that happens in the middle of making something. The unexpected is great.”

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