Rita Riggs: “Whatever it Takes to Remain Fascinated with the Process of Making”

Artist name: Rita Riggs

Featured Work 1:Waiting | 19×36 | Acrylic, charcoal, spray paint, pencil, and gold leaf pen

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Rita Jane Rigg’s characters seem to reside between multiple worlds at once; there is a sense of overlapping realities in this piece. In both this piece and the images below, youth, death, contemporary fashion , tattoos, classic halos and tableaus, morphing patterns, sensitively rendered skin tones, a realistic drawing style and an elegant abandonment of realism, all share the same space. Rita Riggs confidently portrays new worlds within our own.

Featured Work 2: Left: Eva | Detail, Right: Rita Rat | 42x 23 | Acrylic, micron, pencil, gold leaf pen on wood


Rita Riggs is also a fantastic designer:


5 Questions for the Artist:

1. What is art to you?

“I think the key term in this question is “to you” because the nature and credibility of art is intensely debatable. My art practice is a way for me to connect to sides of myself that are below the surface. I surface them while utilizing contemporary means of expression – reference things in my direct experience – such as spray paint, skate-culture art, tattoo imagery and cartoon animals. The utility of play and pop comfortably invite the viewer into the complex symbolic realm of the portrait.”

2. What did you make in the past, and why?

“A few years ago, while in undergrad I found a box of images I had created in my youth. My professors and peers had a good laugh because I have been drawing the same thing since I was a child. The box was full of 20 or so drawings of portraits of young men. Still today I draw primarily young men, around 15- 19 years old. They have a mysterious and captivating quality to me. I am endlessly fascinated by them – the structure of their faces and the stories that they hold. The nature of this fixation is deep and symbolic. I could write a thesis on it. Only recently have I started introducing female figures into my pieces.”

3. What are you making now, and why?

“Along with the portraits, which will never be completed and never be perfect in my mind, I am currently doing a lot of exploration of the additional elements in the pieces. I work with symbols, little illustrations, and abstract shapes. My studio time right now is about play. I play with materials, sketch compositions, work with smaller – less time committed pieces – in order to explore what I need to- in hopes of then bringing the new knowledge to the bigger works. I feel that although I am continuously working the same idea, the way in which I work it will change endlessly. This keeps it interesting for me too.”

4. What are your hopes for the future?

“My hopes for the future are many. I plan to attend graduate school, and at the moment I imagine myself in the future teaching at univerity. I am open to this plan changing. It seems like there is definitely some greater intelligence that decides my path. I would like to work with artists I admire. I would love to have a collaborative studio – similar to a design studio. I would like to introduce a lot more print making into my practice. Whatever it takes to remain fascinated with the process of making and to keep growing, learning and having new creative experiences – that’s what I want for the future.”

(5.  Do you want to add anything? no)

Artist Supplied Background:  

Rita Riggs was born in Ann Arbor Michigan and has spent her life living around the United States in cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and most recently Albuquerque New Mexico. Her work is an exploration of modern portraiture, illustration, pop- surrealism, and mystical experiences. She received her BFA from Eastern Michigan University and is currently preparing for graduate school. She is also on Instagram.

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5 Questions for the Artist, © Julia Travers



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