We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher Rico and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christopher, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
One of my favorite quotes as it pertains to what I do is by Martha Graham, whom many consider the mother of modern dance. “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” I especially love the phrase, “divine dissatisfaction” because it encapsulates my state of being in the studio. It’s about opening up to allow the most authentic manifestation of the flow. I know I can never reach it completely, but there is a spiritual journey in repeatedly trying. It’s called practice for that reason. Embracing process liberates one from finite thinking.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Humans have always told stories and created myths. They make us human, and they keep us human. We have always looked to the stars and created tales of heroism and origin. We stand before the sea or the mountains and feel a sense that we are connected to something larger, infinite, and eternal. I tell stories with gesture and form, color and surface. My work deals with the primordial and the mythical in an attempt to convey that same sense of mystery and awe. I’m inspired by Western religious painting and Eastern calligraphic practice, and I draw inspiration from cave paintings and ritual. My art is truly a practice, rooted in meditation and exploration. I use giant brushes to convey immediate gesture and energy, and yes, it is as fun as it sounds. Degas said that art is not what you see, but what you make others see. So my work is an invitation to see, and to share stories; perhaps to constantly rediscover what it means to be human together. The secret of my success is twofold; discipline and tenacity. I believe that work comes from work, and that so-called inspiration finds you in the studio with your hands already dirty, not something you wait for to strike lighting. I honed my craft in isolation, but I stepped into the arena to further my career. It wasn’t easy. It was scary at times, this world humbles anyone who comes to it with a dream in pocket. But I stayed in it. I made friends and I made connections and I never gave up, even when I wanted to. I’m not done yet! One of my core beliefs is that you can always change your mind. Doing so may not be easy. It may require things of one that they don’t know or believe they have inside. We’re on this earth to find our purpose, and then we have to summon the courage to realize that purpose. So I would say to anyone who is doing something that isn’t feeding their soul, find your purpose. Change your mind. Seek out the new path, no matter how difficult or intimidating it may seem.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I moved to Greenville, SC about 3 years ago. I’ve lived in large cities and in a small towns across the country, and I find this place a nice mixture. It’s exciting to live in a place that is up and coming but not yet fully realized. There’s a terrific food scene, a plethora of craft beer spots, and tons of green space. The downtown is tree-lined and still quaint in some blocks, but there’s also some forward-thinking design that is happening all over the city. There is a lot do within the city itself, and it’s easy to access nature with the Blue Ridge mountains are at our doorstep, plenty of lakes, and state parks. The Swamp Rabbit Trail winds around the city and is great for biking, walks, or just exploring, and is lined with cafes and restaurants. Falls Park is downtown and shouldn’t be missed.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
No one goes it alone. While I possess a formidable personal drive and determination, I would not be able to sustain it without my family and friends. My wife both tolerates and encourages me. My daughters inspire me. I am fortunate to have a network of people on this earth that do what I do and understand the ins and outs. I joined an incredible studio community in March of this year, Oye’ Studios, and despite the pandemic we encourage and push one another. I have friends in NYC with whom I’ve come up career wise. There’s healthy competition, but also camaraderie. I’m lucky to have gallery partners that know me and understand the work and believe in it.
artist portrait – Will Crooks images of artwork – Eli Warren & Christopher Rico