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Alumni Studio Visit: David Rich

NYSS: Describe a typical day in the studio.

David Rich: At present I paint from late morning into evening or night. In the past my schedule involved teaching during the day and painting at night. I usually have a couple of new paintings in progress, as well as a couple of older paintings being significantly reworked. Sometimes the reworking and editing brings them to a resolution they never had before. And sometimes they become new paintings, growing out of some aspect of the earlier start.

NYSS: What parameters or problems drive your working process?

DR: The parameters are dedicated to developing the emerging underlying content, and they evolve as needed. My process involves dense layers of direct painting and a lot of decisive editing, often over an extended period of time. But the paintings continue to stay open, with spatial configurations changing throughout the working process.

NYSS: How has your practice changed or adapted during this time of social distance?

DR: Painting continues to deepen and resonate in old and new ways. The concentrated intensity of this time certainly contributes to this. Like most people, I am keeping things really basic, thinking about what is most essential. Some of this intensity also comes from approaching painting as a form of inquiry, which requires risk. So adapting to new ways of working is a continual process for me, because the evolution of the paintings often demands unexpected resolutions.

NYSS: What do you keep in the studio for inspiration?

DR: Anything in the studio is likely to impact the work. For example, I use an old wagon, a kids’ wagon under my paint-mixing table, and sometimes I recognize its sturdy proportions showing up in an abstract painting. Or the chunkiness of the little “thinking stone” that a friend gave me long ago. While painting at night, I often see the neighborhood out the window, rooftops and lit windows across the street, mingling with the reflections of the paintings on my painting wall, with surprising resonances. For me the work speaks through physicality and an intimate sense of vernacular storytelling, evoking charged places for looking at and into, as provocative places for seeing and thought.

NYSS: Do you listen to anything while you work?

DR: Susana Baca, Boukman Eksperyans, and Cachaito, for the spare and resonant phrasing.I listened to “Kulu Se Mama” by John Coltrane every night my first year of art school way back in 1970, and still find that piece of music inexhaustible in its layered voicings. Each day I also listen to news while working, and I spend part of each day or night working in the quiet, just listening to the street and the sky.

NYSS: How did studying at the Studio School influence your current practice?

DR: The Studio School encourages a willingness and ability to physically and critically wrestle your own way through the making of the work. For me this sense of engagement allows the work to take shape organically, informed by struggle, inquiry, and improvisation.

NYSS: Any upcoming shows/projects to share? Where can people see your work digitally?

DR: Group show presently up at Skoto Gallery, 529 W 20th St, 5th floor, NYC, through Dec 31 2020. Also OnlineViewingRoom @ skotogallery.com through Jan 31, 2021. Website is www.davidrich.net and also check www.skotogallery.com .


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