Artist Q&A with Richard Metz
Why did you become an artist?
Being a visual artist grew in me slowly over time, but it was always the only path forward in my life. The process of making visual art is so satisfying and so all encompassing to me, that of course I wanted to keep doing it.
I also have a strong environmentalist side, and to some extent these have merged over the past 20 years. Being an artist now is how I explore nature and merge with the natural world. It is how I want to encourage others to explore and protect the public natural areas near them.
I have subtle visions of images, sometimes touching on a feeling from my past experiences that move me very much, and I feel so strongly that I want to portray them in my work. I have also been very moved by expressionist artists who have come before me including Chaïm Soutine, Jean Dubuffet, Phillip Guston, Susan Rothenberg, and Pierre Bonnard. Native American, African, and Polynesian art have also been influential to my work, as well as Illustrators Theodore Geisel, Franz Masreel, Lyn Ward, and Art Spiegelman.
How is your work different than everything else out there?
Some of my work is in more traditional formats, and some has struck some new ground. The tree paintings seem to be an original format that I came upon late in grad school. They are different in several ways; they are ephemeral
The works decay as life is born, lives, and dies. So much art work battles with nature, to be preserved for ever, and adds to the accumulation of stuff in consumer society. When the tree paintings decay, nature wins;, the works are in harmony with environmental principles. For years, I have researched old master methods, and use natural non-toxic pigments and egg yolk to create these works. They begin to fade away after a few months, and are completely gone in several years. They are meant to be seen in the woods, to entice viewers to seek them out, and experience the forests around them. The subjects of the works are nature myths, fantastical creatures, birds, and animals of the area in which they are created.
My more traditional works of sculpture and drawing of corvids are darker and less optimistic then most artwork these days.
What’s different about your current body of work?
The recent relief sculptures are genre bending works that are both painting and sculpture. They focus on the dark times to come, a fascination with the intelligence and resilience of crows and ravens, and the their symbolism and relationship to humanity. These are dark works, somewhat uncommon for today’s art world.
The recent tree painting installation “The Aviary” was a collaboration between myself and the Awbury Arboretum. I have created local bird paintings on trees before, and intended to again. The arboretum suggested a way to engage young children in the wooded area might be to create a scavenger hunt using the bird paintings, and this seemed exciting for me. While the works have always been accessible to different age groups, I liked the focus on young people while still maintaining a sense of adventure and painterliness for myself.
What’s coming up for you?
I just had the opening of “The Aviary” show at Awbury Arboretum, and had a show planned for the Forest and Main Brew pub in Ambler, PA but that will be pushed back until next year. I recently exhibited at the Abington Art Center in suburban Philadelphia, had a piece printed in the Dark Mountain Journal, a literary and arts biannual book of environmental awareness, published in the united kingdom.
Who are some of your favorite under appreciated artists?
To learn more about Richard and his work, please visit www.mistermetz.com.