General artist statement

The compelling questions in my work are about place, both the external environment of various places and my place within them. How does place affect our values and differ from urban and rural and eastern and western vantage points? Simon Schama’s book Landscape and Memory, has been influential in my understanding of the European history that is the basis of so many American projections onto the landscape. In this time of migratory reality, how do we come to know the textures, moods, and values of new places?

Living in Brazil for three years in both Sao Paulo and the rural village, Lagoa Santo, made a deep impression on me. The struggle to understand a new culture helped me to learn more about my own cultural values and assumptions, while realizing I would never completely understand the complex constructs that make up the many cultures of Brazil. I learned that aesthetics are not a universal language and that my own sensibility for solitary landscapes is decidedly northern as is my palette and love of subtle, if labor-intensive surfaces.

The aesthetic issues of my work owe much to studying photo printmaking and to my minor in Asian Art History at University of California Berkeley. I seek to translate tactile experience by building layers and juxtaposing iridescent and flat colors with built up textures. I define formats that are portable and use recycled historical images and materials. In the scrolls the format intentionally plays using Hudson River School heroics with a counterpoint Asian view of ordinary daily life and seasons. In Time and Place the work uses glowing, unreal colors that shine through silvery lines, while the square format is reminiscent of early TV screen. The series, Luminous Frontier, projects into outer space yet also reflects anatomical images of interior spaces. How do we experience the growing documentary photographic library of places and keep our connection to the sensual world?

Rita Robilard

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