Lives and works in Penland, NC
(b. 1986, American)
Q: If you were a paint color in the hardware store, what would it be called? And can you describe the color?
A: “My Little Pony Drip Skip – It’s a Jackson Pollackesque color swatch including a drippy scene of pinks, purples, and neons on a white background.”
Work and play are generally perceived as opposites, my position as an artist is to showcase the relationship as congruous. A similar mental state can be assumed when both activities occur and, at times, I have found them to be inseparable in my own art practice. Given this synchronicity, I interweave woodworking, painterly surfaces, and manipulated found objects to present the relationship in the form of bespoke functional objects, sculpture, and installation.
Chores, playtime, boredom, busyness, work; I use the cultural phenomena behind these topics to provide a familiar way to subvert expectation and establish new ways of perceiving the known, the repetitive, the banal. The specificity of these behaviors and their associative material language carries a layered narrative in it’s historic and sociographic origin, this encyclopedic source serves as a foundation for interpretation. I invest time studying tools and toys from eras present and past; I look closely at domestic spaces, abandoned buildings, construction sites, and the merging grounds where indoor becomes outdoor. I notice cycles of maintenance, the recourse from chaos to order, and the intricacies of the mundane. These observations and experiences serve as an initial prompt in how I communicate new messages through furniture, assemblage, installation, and sculpture, this time, encoded with the psychological intersections of seriousness and spontaneity.
Making work within the fields of sculpture and furniture has expanded my perspective on how a person’s interaction with both natural and built spaces can be a potent indicator of societal and cultural identities. Craft can be a powerful vehicle for sharing culture and accessing otherwise tacit values. Absorbing these characteristics allows sculptural objects to extend a common language that paves the way for a shared experience. I believe shared experiences lead to strong connections and greater empathy among us. With this in mind, I hope to activate inquiry in the individual that leads to a more meaningful relationship with their environment and it’s extensions.
- Ellie Richards looks to the tradition of both woodworking and the readymade to create eclectic assemblage, installation, and objects exploring intersections of labor and leisure.
- She has traveled extensively to investigate the role play and improvisation have on the artistic process—most recently to Ghana, where she apprenticed in a workshop on building hollow forms in wood.
- Her work, both furniture and sculpture, has been included in exhibitions at the Mint Museum; Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design; SOFA Chicago; and the Society of Contemporary Craft.
- After receiving an MFA at Arizona State University, Richards participated in residencies, fellowships, and teaching appointments at Anderson Ranch, Peters Valley, the Appalachian Center for Craft, and the Vermont Studio Center. From there she was the wood studio coordinator at Penland School of Craft 2015-2019.
- This year Richards was awarded Windgate residencies at the Center for Art in Wood, and in the wood/furniture design programs at San Diego State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
PRESS + MEDIA
[American Craft Council]
AT PLAY: Ellie Richards And David Halliday At Hodges Taylor
[Penland School of Craft]