Investigating the relationship of labor within a divisive political climate, my current work posits connections between populist aesthetics, cultural production, stability, and ingenuity. In the tradition of many American artists, the work incorporates the often “invisible” practices, culture, and symbols of blue-collar trades as an extra-conceptual means to explore a myriad of contradictions. In American society, the tools of labor have become authoritative, signaling a labor trade that grants access only to those with specialized skills and knowledge. Home Depot, for instance, appropriates just such a signifier of authority in its use of governmental ‘caution orange’ as a brand color. This allows a level of consumer-grade authority for purchase: a means for the public to boot-strap power independent of skill or intellectualism. In my art, I re-contextualize labor and class objects by presenting them in traditional gallery spaces where they assume new identities as sculptures capable of revealing and collapsing class distinctions and economic power dynamics. Thus, my work strives to decode the ideological frameworks underpinning the politics of representation in both popular and high art cultures in American capitalist society.
Ryder Richards is an artist, critic, and curator based in North Texas. He is a co-founder of the RJP NOMADIC GALLERY, a traveling art gallery; CULTURE LABORATORY, an online collective exhibiting internationally; and Dallas-based group THE ART FOUNDATION, which recently placed a work in the collection of the Nasher Sculpture Center. Richards has been awarded eight Artist-In-Residence fellowships from such institutions as the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program (2012-2013) and Wassaic. Richards has exhibited at the Roswell Museum of Art, Bellevue Museum, performed in programming at the Nasher Sculpture Center, and co-curated the exhibition Boomtown at the Dallas Museum of Art. His work has been exhibited in China, Germany, London, Spain, and Switzerland, as well as across the United States, including recent exhibitions in Brooklyn, San Diego, North Adams, Cincinnati, Houston, Chattanooga, St. Louis, Nashville, and San Antonio. He is a regular contributor for Glasstire.com, D Magazine, and Eutopia: Contemporary Art Review, a publication which he founded and where he serves as Publisher and Editor.