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Out of the Mainstream: Brooklyn meets Portland….. Week 2: India Richer

February 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

India Richer: fine artist and decorative finisher based in Brooklyn, NY. India was actually born in Brooklyn and grew up mostly in nearby Queens. She’s been back in Brooklyn since 1993.

What are, in your opinion, the greatest challenges of being an artist today?

I can’t speak for other artists but staying focused can be one of the most difficult things for me these days. Other people’s images, ideas and perspectives can scatter my concentration and the internet has created a culture where turning on the computer can become a habit that fills the place of creativity with the immediate gratification of distraction. The most gratifying work for me to make is that in which I can see the both the struggle that I went through to create the experiences that I’m expressing, and the struggle to get it down on paper in a pure way. I can always make pretty images but it’s challenging to really focus and make something that feels meaningful to me.

In a more general way it seems to me that art is looking for it’s place and purpose in society. Artists are going down increasingly divergent paths and the idea of art and what it is and what it’s for is becoming increasingly fragmented. There is more opportunity than ever to choose from a huge variety of possible mediums and types of art and the question seems to arise “what is the purpose of art and why are we making it?” It’s challenging to forget all these questions and simply make the work that I want to make because I feel compelled to do it, and let the meaning and purpose, if there is going to be one, come later.

What accomplishments/works of art are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the times when my work has acted like a thread of understanding between me and a viewer. It doesn’t happen very often but every once in a while I will hear from someone who feels a piece in such a resonant and compelling way that they write to me and tell me how it has touched them. For me this is what makes sharing my work worthwhile.

I really don’t care if I get notoriety or ever sell anything (though those things are nice too). I just like the thought that I can speak to and connect with people in a wordless way, and that what I have to say is available in my work for discovery to those who might be looking for it.

What do you love most about Brooklyn?

The little stories that can be seen when you shift to micro focus. A green patch of moss growing in a vacant lot full of construction debris is more beautiful to me than a field of flowers because there’s an idea of motion there; the sense that a story that goes beyond mere beauty is unfolding and something unexpected could happen.

There’s something very poignant to me about nature’s unwillingness to quit even in the face of a concrete world. I like that intrepid spirit and the tenuousness space that it can create between harsh and gritty, delicate and vulnerable. Living in Brooklyn offers constant reminders that soft and hard, dark and light can coexist and magnify each other through their contrast.

Check out this week’s Portland artist, Michelle Ramin, on Habit of Art.

As part of the artist interview series, we are inviting readers to participate in a dialogue about the Portland and Brooklyn art communities.  This week’s question:

Do you think it’s harder for artists to make a living in a small city or a big city?