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April 15, 2024

Interview with Richard King

About the Author
Zoe Cudney

See the exhibition here

InLiquid Member

Park Towne Place Artist in Residence Richard King discusses his inspirations, work, and residency experience.

Join us at Park Towne Place on Saturday, April 20 from 2-4pm for a painting workshop led by Richard! Learn more and RSVP Here.

Introduce yourself! What is your name, what art mediums do you work in, etc.?

I’m Richard King and I work across a number of media and disciplines including architecture drawing, sculpture and painting.  My work is often inspired by the built environment and its diverse and ever-changing character.


How does your work as an architect structure your artistic practice?

Architecture relies on quite a bit of study and preparatory drawings to think it through and create instructions for it to be built.  My art process is similar in that I develop many preparatory studies to get to what might be made into a final piece and frequently make construction drawings to aid in the eventual assembly of it.  In that way they are forms of construction that are fairly well thought-out prior to a final piece being created, so it can take time to process an idea and bring it to fruition.  


You work both in two dimensions and in three dimensions, how do you imagine the relationship

between your drawing and sculptural work?

When I began my art practice, it was 3-dimensionally focused.  I began to make 2-dimensional drawings to ensure I could accurately construct the complex geometries I was imagining.  As I made those drawings, I became intrigued with the flattened versions of the work.  I found them engaging and, in some ways, more open to interpretation, which was exciting.  Much of my work involves an exploration or play between 2 and 3 dimensional qualities.  I like to develop a (good) sense of ambiguity in the pieces as an invitation to them being understood in numerous ways and this play contributes to that understanding.

What drew you to the PTP Artist Residency?

I wear many different hats, working as an architect, professor, and artist, making it difficult to focus at times.  The residency offers an opportunity to set aside more time and consider the process of my art practice more intentionally.  The need for a program that engages a community and place was a natural fit for me in thinking about people and the city and how my design and planning experiences might be more directly involved in my art practice.

How do you see your work evolving or changing so far during the first month of your residency at PTP?

The first month has been exciting. It is the first time I have developed work through a research and place-based program, engaging history, first person investigation and community engagement.  This has been eye-opening for me as a process in terms of being open about the potential catalysts for my thoughts and eventual work and how to welcome others into that process.  

When you say "welcome others into that process." Does this mean welcoming others in both as a) spectators to the many stages of development which go into your works and as b) catalysts for new ideas. Is this an accurate understanding? Does one or the other feel easier or more natural?

I think both resonate with me, but the catalytic nature of that engagement is probably more meaningful.  The idea of showing my work and process feels quite familiar.  However, including others to instigate new areas of work is fairly new and exciting.  It creates a wider lens for viewing the work and the world around me, which can be illuminating.

You’ve already done one community workshop, and have more planned, what are you hoping to learn through community outreach programming in conjunction with your time as a PTPAIR  How has community engagement informed your work in the past, if at all?

This is the first time as an artist that I have looked to others to begin a project.  The first engagement involved a mental mapping exercise where participants drew their neighborhood, the places in it and their movement through it.  What I found most interesting is the wide variety of ways people communicated graphically.  It’s a great exercise to understand how people see their neighborhoods qualitatively.  I am exploring the paths and patterns people created in their drawings and looking at specific places they highlighted as further inspiration.


How are you drawing from the architecture of PTP and the surrounding area for your residency?

The residency builds on this interest through the Situationist’s concept of the Dèrive(Drift), or the “art of wandering” as a context and catalyst for the art making process.  I believe that as we drift or “move without purpose” through the city, it begins to reveal its unseen and often ignored character.   This wandering study of the neighborhood surrounding the Residency Studio focuses on excavating its hidden history, spatial character, and form as a springboard for a series of new pieces.   Through an iterative drawing process, geometry, proportion, and characteristics are being considered collectively and are merging to form their own new language that taps into our collective memory of the surrounding environment.  

In looking at the "hidden history" of the neighborhoods surrounding PTP, you spoke about the details of this history and the industrial buildings/structures which you've begun to explore at the reception, but I am curious to know more of the details of this. Are there any specific facts, anecdotes, or stories from these histories you're discovering that you might want to share?

I am enjoying digging deeper into some of these histories, but am primarily focused on the physicality of the places that were there in the past.  This process has certainly spurred my interest in history and play into future work and research.

The city of Philadelphia hosts a diverse array of architectural styles and influences. What styles are most influential within your artistic practice?

The greatest source of my inspiration lies in the less obvious and ignored elements of the city, its structures, and spaces.  Often these interests are associated with the more practical or perfunctory aspects of built places, rather than the intended style of their general appearance.  I am drawn to industrial places because they don’t usually subscribe to norms of how things are typically made and composed, so they can be surprising and dynamic.

Do these influences align with the minimalistic style of your art, and if not, how do you conceptualize their connection?

As an approach I often start with something simple, and it becomes denser and more complex as the work develops.   The goal isn’t necessarily to be minimal as much as it is to create something polysemantic that propels one’s imagination and further action.  The discursive nature of the work is important to me as well.  I develop shared rules of geometry, proportion and scale that allow works to speak to each other and be developed and considered collectively.  The simple forms seem to encourage this conversation as the pieces tend to conflate formal, spatial, and figural qualities as they progress.

I also associate this simplicity with memory, particularly through the idea of the silhouette.  Silhouette making was a common practice prior to the development of the camera as a way for everyday people to document moments in their lives.  As a child my mom created silhouettes of each of us that were hung in the hallway of our home.  She would use one of the living room lamps and trace our shadows onto colored paper.  The silhouette offers enough information to get a sense of what you see, but there is still a lot left to the imagination.  I often think of my work as a series of silhouettes that hint at something and encourage the viewer to imagine a larger context and connection to the shapes and lines that I make.


Is there anything else you want to share about your expectations and hopes regarding your residency at PTP?

My hope with this residency has been to expand the beginning part of my process, ask questions differently and push my curiosity to stretch the nature of the work.  I appreciate the folks that have come out to contribute to that and hope the work contributes to their sense of community in some way. The city can be inclusive by nature, and there is something quite natural and optimistic to me about including others in the process.

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