For the introspective and process-driven artist, “Beneath Stilled Waters” is a meditation on procedure and decision-making as much as it is a study of the Pacific Northwest landscape. “I’m drawing a parallel between natural processes, policy processes, and the creative process,” Richman says. “I see it, almost, like interviewing a place. I go there. I look around. I paint or draw while I’m there to try to get to know it better. And then I come back to the studio, and I learn about what’s happening there. Then I make a painting that evolves over time.”
With this series, Richman breaks from the abstract work that has been her focus the last two decades and embraces a style that means viewers may well recognize the places in her paintings. “I wanted to connect more with particular places in our region,” she says. It was also a chance for her to be more interdisciplinary in her work, creating pieces more directly informed than usual by history, science, and policy. “I wanted to be able to communicate on behalf of places a little more directly.”
Richman’s work on the series is ongoing. “I’m really interested in how conversations and relationships amongst people affect places,” she says. “They are inscribed and embodied in these sites, in the flow of the rivers, whether the rivers are flowing or not, how much they’re flowing. It’s a conversation about the natural environment and human intervention, and how they are in dialogue or debate with each other.”
“Beneath Stilled Waters: Representing Columbia Basin Water Issues” will be held virtually on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public. For details, visit the event listing on the university events calendar.
See Richman’s “Eight Mile” from “Beneath Stilled Waters” in process: