I have been making collages since I was six. After my first attempt, I was scolded for cutting up my parents’ magazines and getting glue on the dining room table (otherwise, my artistic paths have always been wholeheartedly encouraged by them). Undaunted and now in mid-career, it is still my favorite medium and meditation. This meditative mindset flows out across collecting, dissecting, categorizing and filing my source materials, and down into the selection, cutting, and composition of my collages. There’s a jar on my work table for all the used X-acto blades. My file cabinets overflow with botanical prints, anatomy specimens, vintage beefcake magazines, old letters, and foxed and mildewed papers. I keep small flat-files for separating the pre-cut body parts; arms, legs, hands, each get a tray. I am drawn to the human body as subject matter for so many reasons: we are each, to a greater or lesser degree, familiar with the territory; we come in such a wide array of variations; we are capable of gorgeous contortions; we are image whores, craving to see and be seen; and, in the fading world of analog media, we are only as temporal as the paper we are printed on. For several years I worked strictly with anatomical and medical imagery, focusing on our feeble attempts to communicate with ourselves when our bodies are in distress. My current work pulls me out to the body’s surface and its relationships with the spaces it flows through.
I prefer working in collage because of its inherent nose-thumbing of context and intention: identity, sexuality, gender, taxonomy, and meaning can all be reassigned with the flick of a sharp blade and a smudge of glue stick. I take a perfectly innocent bouquet and taint it with porn and innuendo. I love finding that perfect, fluid, Baroque arabesque between sinew and stem, and my inner Dr. Frankenstein smiles at the newly formed creature on the table before him.
b. 1965, Pensacola, Florida and Lives in Atlanta, Georgia
Richard Russell began making collages in elementary school. Throughout his career as an artist, he has continued to work in various combinations of collage, photography, and artists’ book formats.
In 1992, Mr. Russell published Insomnia at Nexus Press as a tribute to a friend who overdosed. Self-published books followed: Anodyne (1991-93), a large-format Xerox chapbook, and Garden (1994), a collage-based wall-book not intended to be bound.
Mr. Russell has since exhibited in solo and group shows across the U.S. and Europe, as well as Japan. His work is part of major venues including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Virginia Commonwealth University, the New York Public Library, and the Sackner Collection of Visual and Concrete Poetry in Miami, as well as many private collections around the world.
In 2008, he was honored to be selected one of the Top Five Finalists for the Forward Arts Foundation’s Emerging Artist of the Year Award and in 2009 as a Fellow at the Hambidge Center for Arts and Sciences.