FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
On View: Tuesday–Sunday | 12–6 PM
Opening Reception: Thursday, Jan 24, 2019 | 5–7PM
The Department of Art & Art History presents Michael Richards: Winged, a solo exhibition of sculpture and drawing dedicated to the late artist Michael Richards (1963–2001). The exhibition, curated by Alex Fialho and Melissa Levin, is on view at the Stanford Art Gallery from January 22 through March 24, 2019, with a reception on Thursday, January 24, 5–7pm, and an academic symposium on Friday, February 8.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Michael Richards was working in his studio on the 92nd floor of World Trade Center, Tower One, when the first plane struck, taking his life along with thousands of others. At the time of his passing, Richards was an emerging artist whose incisive aesthetic—provocative, playful, and with a critical bent—held immense promise to make him a leading figure in contemporary art.
Richards used the language of metaphor to investigate racial inequity and the tension between assimilation and exclusion. Aviation, flight, and escape were central themes of Richards’s artwork, gesturing towards both repression and reprieve from social injustices, and the simultaneous possibilities of uplift and downfall, often in the context of the historical and ongoing oppression of Black people. Significant points of reference for Richards included the Tuskegee Airmen, and figures and stories from African and Judeo-Christian traditions. Centering his own experience, Richards used his body to cast the figures for his sculptures, who often appear as pilots, saints, or both.
In light of his harrowing passing on 9/11, Richards's work evokes a charged afterlife and prescient significance. In tandem, his words and the socio‐political context of his lifetime create multiple readings and metaphoric possibilities.
Michael Rolando Richards was born in 1963 in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He received a BA from Queens College and an MA from New York University. During his lifetime, Richards won several competitive awards and participated in numerous international exhibitions. His work is in the collections of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Brooklyn Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, and Pérez Art Museum Miami. Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota is home to a permanent memorial to Michael Richards. Learn more about Michael Richards here.
Michael Richards: Winged was first presented in 2016 by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Co-sponsored by Office of the President, Office of the Vice President for the Arts, Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Denning Family, V. Joy Simmons, MD, Institute for Diversity in the Arts, and Stanford Live.
Image: Michael Richards with Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian, 1999. Photograph by Frank Stewart.
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