Making Marks

Carl Richardson made a New Year's resolution — and an art show came out of it

When Carl Richardson unplugged himself from every social network he could at the end of 2012, he made a promise to himself: every day in 2013, he would make one drawing. Just one. Didn't have to be significant or perfect. He just wanted to sit down every day, and let his mind unload through a stub of charcoal and onto a piece of paper. At the end of the year, he'd have 365 drawings.

For a month, he did it. He drew something new every single day.

Then February came. Life happened. He'd skip a day and draw two the next. By the end of the month, his routine was gone — but he still gained something.

"It did give me this little ritual that I have now, of drawing. Taking time to really just block everything else out and draw," he says last week, perched on a tall stool in the silkscreening studio at Spokane Falls Community College, where he teaches. Any time he spent drawing — time reserved for him and him alone, and not online — was time well spent.

"When I'm drawing, it's just me and the charcoal and the paper, and I'm not being social. I may have some music on, but everything else is just tuned out. Which is great. It's a form of meditation," he says.

Though he didn't have 365 drawings at the end of the year, Richardson had a spark in his mind for a new show. It's called "Objectification" — and that's not implying what you might think. The show simply exhibits 81 charcoal drawings, which are all of totally random objects. Paper bags. Tools. Fruit. Fabric.

There isn't a greater meaning or mission or takeaway to the show, he says. This is an exhibition simply about making art.

"Honestly, the whole doing [a drawing] once per day is just selfish reasons of just wanting to draw and to escape. And so the show was born out of that — just my love of drawing," he says.

"Objectification" is a major departure from Richardson's last exhibition. As one of five artists in Gonzaga University's Jundt Gallery exhibition, "Drawn to the Wall V," Richardson presented a bold piece called "We" on one of the giant museum walls. On it, he sketched a portrait of himself, face cast down, hands in the pockets of a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood flipped up. The outline of the state of Florida loomed in the background, the lyrics to Bob Marley's "War" falling in and out of focus. It was a piece teeming with fear and uncertainty, anger and frustration.

"The whole Trayvon Martin thing kept spinning in my head, and so that piece just spilled out of me, " he says. He couldn't help thinking of the similarities between himself and Martin: Richardson is black. He grew up in Florida, too. "That could've easily been me."

That show, to him, was all about message.

"It was about not judging people based on their looks. If you've met me, and you don't like me, I'm completely cool with that," he says. "But if you don't know me and you just look at my appearance and you don't like me based on that, then that's where there's issues."

"Objectification" shows Richardson leaving the message out of his work, simply concentrating on the meditative act of drawing and being surprised by his own work.

"The act of drawing is just the same — because it's still just pushing charcoal around," he says. "If you're putting a message out there, you have to make sure it's clear. [But] with these objects, there's no message, so I can relax." ♦

"Objectification," featuring work by Carl Richardson • On display Feb. 7-28 • Artist reception: Fri, Feb. 7, from 5-9 pm • Kolva-Sullivan Gallery • 115 S. Adams • 448-5517

American Original: The Life and Work of John James Audubon @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 19
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About The Author

Leah Sottile

Leah Sottile is a Spokane-based freelance writer who formerly served as music editor, culture editor and a staff writer at the Inlander. She has written about everything from nuns and Elvis impersonators, to jailhouse murders and mental health...