The panorama I made of Lacey last year will be exhibited in a group show at Davis Gallery here in Austin this September. This interview is part of a series getting to know the subjects of those images.
SDG: When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist and then what did you do to make that a reality?
LR: I have always been creative…ever since I was a little kid, though I think most of us are naturally that way as we are little….it can become a struggle not to hide this creativity as we get older, meaning we become less in tune with or expressive, at least willing to be, of our creativity. We become too self-conscious and worry what others might think.
I remember loving to draw fruit bowls when I was little, in colorful markers. I always did the same fruits: yellow banana, spiky pineapple, purple grapes, red apple with a shiny spot on it (this shiny spot/indication was simply an askew square drawn near the top of the fruit), and a pear. An occasional strawberry or two might make its way into the mix but not usually. I recall winning a blue ribbon for one of my fruit drawings at the County Fair held annually in conjunction with the 4-H Rodeo & Stockyard show in Kerrville where I grew up. Perhaps I should go back to fruit bowls.
I also would sometime draw portraits of my family members and relatives…my Paw-paw in his wheelchair. My Granny. Even myself…with birds. ( I remember writing a book with illustrations about this girl who found a bird nest in her back yard, and one of the birds fell out or something, and she tended to it, and it got big and strong and flew, but this little girl, who basically was me, was fascinated with this little winged-creature. Birds have always stuck with me; they have appeared in my dreams and certain series within my art. It’s a shame they became so damn trendy while back.)
In 1st grade, I was pictured in the local newspaper with a few other friends and kids, as we won awards for an art contest. I remember I was awarded a marker and watercolor set and drawing pad. I likely drew more fruit on it.
As far as becoming ‘a real artist’…I’m still deciphering what that means. I know I am meant to lead and live an artful, expressive, unique, and richly-colored life. I will say when I decided to give the art thing a real shot, I took up smoking cigarettes and drinking black coffee….all for one day. A rainy one at that, which only lent itself to the poetic artistic notion.
Being exposed to art and materials at a young age, receiving encouragement from teachers, taking classes in college…working in an art museum for several years, having the opportunity to have my first solo show at a gallery in town, showcasing my work in other countries and creating work in them…all these influenced me and lead me to my personal art pursuit, and continually does. Also having my first actual studio in which to call my own and participating in artist community here and beyond. I am fortunate. It is easy to not recognize milestones or continual growth as an artist, a human being at that. I know I can often, not only take for granted amazing opportunities at my disposal, but fail to realize the one’s I have seized and grown from as a practicing artist. We live in such a productive-based world and society. As an artist, part of how we are built is that we like to observe things…take them in...often slowly and leisurely as to sit with them and truly experience them. This is vital to the creative process and to the human spirit I believe.
SDG: You seem to experiment with a lot of different mediums? Tell me about how you work and create?
LR: I like materials. Different textures. Qualities. Sensibilities. I look at them sometimes as fashion or accessories…I like to use variety and multiple ones to exude the right ‘ensemble’ or essence within a piece, as well as in my waking /walking outfits! *I do like fashion and outfits, especially as an artist because you have the go-ahead, and almost the required expectation, to really use up that ‘artistic license’ in how you dress…I like and enjoy this! We are all walking canvases…artist or not, and I do feel life, art, food, and CLOTHING should be CELEBRATED !!
Painting is my background; I used to paint in oils, as I loved the lushness and juiciness of them. I still use oils from time to time, but I also use acrylics – less fumes, etc. as I have a smaller space…though it does have a cool vintage turbo-looking vent. I also use dry materials such as pastels and charcoals; I like the grit and intentional mark-making quality within these. Additionally I will use electric tape, as I find it both visually necessary at times, as well as sexy and intriguing. A lot of my work can have a feminine nuance to it…so at times I like to break that with some masculine or raw materials…like scrappy found objects as well, many from construction site dumpsters. I also often utilize shiny things and metallics, as well as anything MESH - - mesh stockings and fabrics, rubber gridding, metal lattice…I am very drawn to mesh and gridded materials…perhaps because they too are both feminine and can be delicate, like myself and my name….but also because they allow for one to see through them….they reveal but not overly…in the same vane, they invite one to see what’s under them…they do disclose.
I like creating two-d works, such as paintings and mixed-media pieces on paper – this allows me to get my gestural mark-making in, along with occasional collage (I will sometimes cut up my leftover wax paper paint palettes and incorporate them back into the piece, either with paint or sewing them with red or gold metallic string). *I use a lot of red, black, and gold…I wear a lot of these colors too.
I also like to create installations, often with tactile materials such as fabric, mesh, and found objects…and arrange them in a way that almost creates a tactile painting of these physical objects and materials. In essence, I am ‘painting’ with these non-traditional materials. Organic, rounds shapes make their way within the composition, as well as fluid, jarring, and gestural lines…with varying textures and dimensions. I can also fully incorporate color and sheen within these installations, which I have fun with; I like being able to be spontaneous within my work but still mindful. That is a lot of how I work as an artist…..I am intuitive and reactionary. A lot of my internal emotions and tendencies/propensities naturally come out in my work…kind of like musical vibrations or chords in a song…I like music that compels and swells….kind of like the receding tide…it builds up..comes forward and then recedes again. Continual movement. A lot of my work perhaps is based on movement – energy, that we/I repress and also activate outwardly through creative expression. A lot of the time….I think I kind of let things…creative energy build up within me…until finally, it breaks and floods out onto the canvas, or paper, or plywood….in paint, and color, line, form, texture, words and notes on my guitar as I write and make up songs… …and also in actual MOVEMENT of my body.
I recently have been creating video performance works…I call them that - - they basically are me filming myself in varying spaces, all that have caught my eye and intrigue….most of them being semi-private and/or sacred. Houses that are being built/under construction, church sanctuaries, and even horse-stables. I go into these spaces, with specific ensembles on…most always form-fitting and including fishnets…and I simply dance, like no one is watching…and I move my body…like the lines and forms I make on canvas/paper, and I let all that is within, that energy, graceful, poised, seductive, or frenzied/chaotic out. It is an Outlet for Expression. I don’t get stuck in my head like I can within the walls of my studio and pieces I’m working on; instead I just move and open to that movement within me. And it feels good, and it is strong, and I Like it; I enjoy it ! I am Empowered by it!
There is a physicality to it. There is also a femininity and sensuality to it. And there is a Rawness to it. More and more, like the construction sites and materials, the electric tape, the gestural even guttural marks I make…the spaces within that I dance; there is all a rawness to them, and I am attracted to this. Likely on a very deep and real, interior-level…perhaps I want pockets and ‘rooms’ of my interior to be seen and received authentically, and that is why I am partially attracted to the construction sites, as they are raw and in process…under construction. To be seen and put yourself out there…this is vulnerability. It takes true vulnerability to be an artist. Ultimately, as a person and an artist, I want to be-seen-in-my-stripped-down-state-and-know-I-will-be-accepted-even-prized-and-treasured-but-this-is-risk-cause-we-live-in-a-strange-psuedo-connected-vulnerable-on-the-surface-smoke-and-mirrors-world…in a large degree.
So yes…the dancing movement thing comes naturally and I feel and believe is a further expansion, both physically, figuratively/literally, and expressively, as to what I was/am already doing within my two-d works and installations as well.
Most recently, during the entire month of June, I had video work showcased in France at a beautiful and historic equestrian estate where they breed and raise racing horses. I had the privilege of visiting Jumenterie de Rieve in the French village of Pompadour last fall after participating in an artist conference in Berlin, where upon I lead a collaborative workshop on recycled-mixed-media, which was a truly amazing experience and opportunity within itself (*Wim Wenders, the prolific German film maker, was one of the panelist/speakers at this conference – I got to meet him and visit after, and I gave him my card. I also extracted a golden nugget of wisdom out of him in that meeting; you can ask me about it next time you see me.)
I filmed in the sanctuary on the grounds of the estate (I had already been filming some here in Austin at my own church, as well as trespassing onto other sites..sneaking in and tap-dancing in front of the stain-glass windows…in fishnets no less) , which was quite historic, and then I had the chance to film myself inside a horse stall….with, in fact, the horse himself, a true French Stallion ! A documentary is being filmed about this very place, and I may yet have some footage within it.
Needless to say, the work that occurred within that space and moment in divine time is special and continually revealing itself to me.
In the fall, I will be having a solo-show at a unique art venue located on the East-side, known as TEST-TUBE, promoting experimental works, including performance and video. I will also be showcasing video works during this year’s EAST AUSTIN STUDIO TOUR, my fifth year-running, at my studio at ARTPOST, a community of talented artists tucked along deep East Cesar Chavez, in addition to some other participatory art hubs. Watch for my mixed-media paintings and works on paper at WINK Wine Bar & Restaurant in West Austin this fall as well, in addition to the Seton Cove Spiritual Center. Lastly, every fall I participate in Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) programming at the Emma S. Barrrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, facilitating traditional sugar skull workshops and creating a flower&bone ofrenda (offering) floor-installation, that I will likely do again this year.
SDG: You are really good about sending out a newsletter every month to update everyone about your work and what you are doing. Has it been to struggle at all learning to promote your self? What advice would you have for an artist that finds it hard to self promote and talk about their work?
LR: On promoting one’s self….this can be tricky for anybody…artist or not. Though there are a few out there who seem to have no reservation, hesitation, or difficulty promoting themselves. I envy these people, however…in some over-the-top cases, I think it can also be a deficiency-indicator in other areas…or emotions. Don’t necessarily quote me on that. Sometimes I feel that an artist, in order to be a successful one, must be quite pro-active in self-promotion. Now we can define success in a whole ‘nother lengthy interview article. Success can often times mean financial-gain and abundance. This is largely what an artist may consider as successful. Having individuals buy and collect your work. Feeding you money to feed your creative habit, drive, ..necessity…and also that you may enjoy a certain quality of life, whatever that quality looks like for you, the individual artist. Yes, money is important and desired. However there are also other arenas of success that do not entirely, immediately equate to money. Yet money is needed I suppose, again, in order to have the means to create work and get it out there, continually, so that one might have some sort of success…even if that means continually being able to create and show your work. This is success, in that you don’t stop. You don’t quit. You don’t let society, someone, or yourself get the better of you. I am not talking about being delusional or detrimentally harmful, negligent, or imparting unhealthy circumstances for yourself….but you don’t let your dream die. It may change along the way. But you don’t give up. When you do that – when you give up - a piece of you dies. Now there may be times you give up…temporarily…for a day or week or month or year…or several, but inevitably…you come back to it., and it you. It is hard to have hope, if we don’t have dreams. Something we are aiming for. Big or small. Doesn’t necessarily matter. The small things over time can be and grow quite large when collectively summoned together.
I often feel the need to have something great to share with people before I will put anything out there…in terms of a Newsletter. I try to send a monthly one, but sometimes it might be every other month…or every two months here and there…but that lets me know I might need to step up my game…get to work…or simply know that it is okay to have a bit of a stall or mild period, and this is all part of the process. Again, we live in a hyper-productive or pseudo-productive platform. Sometimes it is simply nice and okay to say – Hey…I didn’t bend over backwards or feel the need to spread myself in an anxiety-inducing frenzy, and I’m okay with that.
I do know that I am proud as I read back over my Artist Newsletters. Not only does it reveal to me the work I have actually been doing, and the monumental achievements and celebrations that I need to recognize, and celebrate if I didn’t properly at the time, but it shows me that I am in fact making stride, and I am Doing It. And this is a big part of being an Artist. Doing You. A big part of being Human or Alien…or all the above. DO YOU. BE You. SHOW You. Dare to be Seen. Sing Your Song. Promote Yourself. Stand Up & Out. You don’t have to be an ego-maniac. You may be subtle, humble…and I believe in this approach and characteristic, for this can be highly rewarded, and I have experienced it time and time again. But I have also been highly rewarded when I was WILLING to put myself out there….simply striking up a conversation, casually and confidently mentioning I was an artist…describing my work…or proudly and genuinely sharing my latest good news, i.e. ‘I have video art showcasing in Southern France for an entire month!’ People want to know these things, especially if they are interested in you or your work or #art&creativity#something other than what they’re doing#the exciting life of an artist that is not theirs….or have never even met you before.
And not everyone will, but the ones who are meant to will, the right ones. Again, I am an intuitive person, so I like to try and feel situations/people/the room out at times. However, if I spend too long in my head-gut, I can talk myself out of something and possibly miss out on a great connection or opportunity. *I like to think that a bigger force takes care of all that and destiny steps in, and I do believe that; God has shown me that in very real ways, at times to a surreal degree. What I’m saying to whoever is reading this, as well as myself, don’t feel the need to be a Wall Flower ..at least not every time. Take a chance; go out of your comfort zone. Likely, even often, it will be Great with better outcomes than you might have even imagined, and you get that solo show…and $ell all your work$..and get invited to do another show at another space…and so on and so on, and all will feel Right and Aligned, and THIS IS AWESOME! And when this does occur, Relish in it, and Acknowledge it , and Honor It….cause these are rare ..and fleeting, as we are soon onto the ‘next green pasture or triumph.’ And even if the complete opposite happens, and your emotional intestines and pride end up splayed on the floor, no glory and all guts….well hey you gave it a shot, and it is not the end of the world, but merely a part of the process. You dust yourself off and get up again. It helps us all realize that it is not the end of the world if someone does not receive us, or things don’t go the way we thought or had hoped, …and we dare even fail. It is more failure not to try in the first place. Conquer that fear of failure by standing up to it and taking a chance. This all sounds like a motivational blog entry.
SDG: It is motivational for sure. What drives you and keeps you motivated, inspired, and focused?
LR: Nature helps me a lot. Taking walks to simply be in neutral-mode. I like to look at and observe nature. Walking helps get me out of my head. Any kind of physical activity is good for this. Walking is peaceful though.
TRAVELING and getting out of town…out of my everyday environment and familiarity. Helps change my perspective and recharge my soul and batteries to want to start or keep sparking again.
Going and looking at other art work, be it peers, or masters, is definitely a tool for inspiration, though I don’t do it as much as I should or necessarily would like.
Talking to other artists and creatives, not just visual artists per se, but musicians, writers, actors, chefs, fashionistas….creatives. Confiding in them, if you feel received and safe, trusting in them…having real conversations about work, creative obstacles, self-doubts, thoughts/ideas…showing your very work and receiving some feedback or exchange - - - this definitely is important. I know I like to spend a lot of time solitary, as this is part of the artist path I believe, however we need community. We need exchange. We need support and encouragement…and fresh, different eyes…and sound of reason or mind when we simply are too saturated with our own thoughts/emotions/defeating doubts. Go have a beer with an artist friend. Do a studio visit. Go see a show at a museum together. Go see a movie. By yourself.
Have a yummy snack and enjoy it. Nacho-summits are my favorite. * I am kind of a nacho coinsurer. I like to go have nachos and a rita on a patio and use my Spanish with the waiter or waitress. This is something I do. I also will sometimes include a fellow creative to share and enjoy my company and nachos, though I’m very selective.
Small things like this. Help me to simply be in the moment and ENJOY my Life, which in turn helps me to maintain creative frequency and fruitfulness.
I will admit, I can often run the other direction from the very thing that makes me feel good and anchored and emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually satisfied. I will avoid my studio and making work and the process, and it is foolish. As soon as I do go into my studio and start doing something, I feel BETTER. Even just being there. Sitting and writing. Sweeping. Strumming my guitar. And/or swearing.
This resistance is common for the artist. The more I talk to my fellow people, young and seasoned alike; artists and creatives can fight the very nature of what they have been gifted to do. This is reassuring.
I will say, even if I am not physically at my studio, creating work there for stretches of time….I am likely still creating. I am thinking. About Ideas. I am noticing. Colors. Patterns. Intersections of Intrigue…the orange construction cone, the gnarly gravel rock pile, ..the reflective neon shiny stripes of the detour sign. I am writing. I am strumming my guitar. Practicing songs. Recording new song lyrics in my car while a train goes by or a blinker pulses in the background. I am savoring textures of nachos and salty-tangy-frozen ritas…the granules of ice dissipating on my tongue. I am laughing. And crying. Sometimes as the same time with friends. I am pacing. And dancing. I am Praying.
Spirituality for me is very important, and it feeds, and at times, fights, into my very process and work as an artist.
I recently gave a sermon to my church….I know…this was unexpected - -it was a pretty unique experience. I talked about Dance as a Metaphor for Life, and how we simply need to be Willing to get out on that dance floor…even if we are terrified…or we don’t know the steps..or ‘what if we look like a fool’….all the things that can often go through our minds when Life calls us to show up and Be Seen…Be Celebrated…Be Daring…Be ALIVE! We can either let the song pass us by…and often times, there is another one on the record cue…sometimes an even better one that is more in-line with our individual personalities….but sometimes there is not – that’s it. No B Side. Don’t miss out on your song….or simply the exhilarating fun and freedom of finding your song! I managed to reference FOOTLOOSE, the movie if you were living under a rock in the 80’s, as well as a James McMurtry quote, ..go see him some Wednesday late night at the Continental Club…you just might get lucky and see me dancing on the stage with him in a coin belt, as well as some of my ART - - my recent video art…of when I had snuck in that very church and tap-danced in my Lacey-made-Mexican-hot-glued-pesosed-red-vintage-Spanish-high-heeled-tap-shoes in front of that luminous and holy stain glass window! This I never would have thought or suspected…across the plywood board…but Life is Funny & Interesting & Beautiful. God Does in deed work in very Mysterious, Artful, and even humorous ways. I am Grateful for this. He Is the Ultimate Creator & Artist; He created Us…Artist, Alien, & the Like. I Need Him as my Ultimate Magic Color within my array of colors on my palette and my heart…..as well as my racy Fara-Fawcett get-up, that was once my Mom’s for the record, and red-hot-tap-shoes! All is to say….when we are willing to embrace Life and Ourselves….One Another, whether through success, Excess, Joy, humiliation, and/or Failure, we make God Smile, and we give each other permission to simply be who we are, as well as who we dare to be..and will likely eventually become, in loving spirit, and that is more than enough.
SDG: When you think about what your life as an artist will be like in the future what do you imagine?
LR: As for what I want to be doing as an artist in my future….continually making work, showing it, EXPRESSING, Fully & Robustly, TRAVELING ABROAD, likely doing Residencies/Workshops, creating and showing work in other countries, galleries, and unique venues. Upping my Collectors’ Base. Celebrating Life and My Talents, however that looks on the day. Collaborating. Dancing. Always Dancing. Singing & Making an Album of my original songs…with a self-portrait and/or art on the cover. Inspiring & Encouraging Myself and Others. G-R-O-W-I-N-G. Dreaming. Doing. Being. LIVING. Boldly. Richly. Lovingly. ArtFULLY.
Many Thanks to you Scott, as well as Davis Gallery, for this special opportunity. I am honored to be a part.
* I am rebuilding my Website at this time, though you may still see some of my work simply by googling my name, Lacey Richter, or friending me on Facebook. I aim to have my new Website up and running for your viewing pleasure by later this Fall, video work included.
SDG: Wow. All I can say is wow. Talk about being uninhibited and vulnerable. Thanks you Lacey for sharing so completely.