In Subtext and Overstory, Quad Cities artist Randy Richmond presents ten still-life photographs from his most recent work. Half of the images—the “subtext” of the title—were composed and shot with window light in his small 7’x10’ studio. The other half—the “overstory”—were created and shot outside, with the tree canopy as background, in a much more involved process of staging and lighting. Both bodies of work offer viewers exquisite compositions of colors and shapes in which the lines between inside and outside, the lifeless and the vital, are blurred.
The “subtext” works are sparsely populated a ball of twine or a vase standing sentinel in a velvety interior while the “overstory” works feature an immobile abundance: a bouquet of flowers in a jar of water is set against a rolling landscape, or a dingy, taxidermized swan sits silently in front of a pond. All of the images are quiet, rich, and mysterious. The result of a painstaking and time-consuming process, they evoke feelings but resist explicit narrative. In an era where sophisticated cameras are in every pocket and millions of photos are posted daily on Instagram, Richmond’s works are revolutionary and fearless.
Like DuMA’s concurrent Craft Invitational exhibition, Subtext and Overstory shows the transformation—via skill, artistry, and imagination—of everyday items and materials into objects and images with extraordinary power.