“I don’t know the role that I have in this world yet. I know that I love to create work about people, specially those whose voices are silent, and people who struggle but have survived obstacles. I know that I like to shed light into the lives of the less fortunate, because I am one of them and I know that my work comes from a very personal perspective, which is the only way that I can create today, only if I had lived it in my own skin.” – Ricder Ricardo
In this installment of HOUSE CALL we check in with Cuban-born painter, printmaker, photographer, husband, and friend Ricder Ricardo as he isolates both at home and work with his husband, Jorge. He has also spent many hours in the studio and, like so many of us, has found spending time with his friends and family, virtually, a life line.
We have had the honor to show Ricder’s work at Yellow House as part of the 2019 (Re)Set the Table exhibition and in two exhibitions we curated at the gallery at The 5 & Dime: A Theatre Company: Land of the Free? Immigration and Otherness and You are Not Alone to support the 20th anniversary of the Laramie Project. I have to admit I am a bit obsessed with Ricder and his work and have been looking forward to an exhibition we have been co-creating with his fellow UNF grads and friends Kirsten Williams and Mimi Taylor. The exhibition, Manifesto, will explore their unique and intertwined experiences of coming from different corners of the world and creating a bond through their common struggle of belonging. The Coronavirus pandemic has delayed the exhibition, but the extended timeline has provided Ricder to create new works that are responding to this remarkable time.
What are the most significant ways that this time, marked so deeply by the coronavirus, has changed your daily routine?
For me and my husband, it has changed the way we interact with each other and the ones around us. We both work in the same company, so on top of being together in quarantine, we have to see each other at work, and that can be a bit draining to the relationship. We have found that what helps us is taking time away from each other to do our own thing while still finding quality time as a couple. It also has changed the way we see and value our loved ones. We realize that in order to keep our family members safe, we must stay away and taking care or ourselves. That means not going out unless it is necessary and even then, to take all necessary precautions, like wearing a mask and constantly washing our hands, and social distancing.
How has this time changed, informed, motivated, or hindered your art?
Before this whole pandemic broke loose, I has started working on a oil painting series about immigration, a concept that I have been exploring for quite some time. This time, however, I decided to include landscape as a way to inform the subject in the painting, in this case immigrants crossing over. My idea was to use the different environments to evoke positive emotions to the viewer about the the subject matter. In a way the landscape would reflect on the inner state of mind of the immigrant.
After sometime in quarantine, however, I started finding myself going outside of my house to take photos of plants, flowers and different nature elements that I find in my own backyard. I started playing around with some videos as well. I have been using my phone and the different apps on it, because for me it is about the immediacy of these moments, contrary to what I have been doing with my paintings.
I know this time is filled with so many emotions, can you name one that has been dominate for you and paint a picture of how that has manifested itself?
Uncertainty and responsibility for sure are the two that I feel dominate my emotions right now. Uncertainty because we truly don’t know when this whole pandemic will stop taking lives and even then, will we be ever able to go back to normal? I feel and hope so, this will be a wakeup call to everyone to remind ourselves how important it is to be united instead of creating divisiveness. This time is also informs each one of us that we are such a small part of something bigger, like a small link that’s part of a bigger chain.
I also feel responsibility towards one another. Now more that ever we have to be aware that our actions have consequences to every person around us. It is the time, more than ever, to be selfless and to know that we have the solution in our hands, to make it all go away. We just need to work together and not loose focus just because we are tired of being indoors.
Is there anything you have connected to in yourself or your external life that has brought unexpected joy during this time?
The simple things in life like: sitting outside and drinking a glass of wine while just listening to the birds sing, taking a full day to just be in the studio, research and listening to music and not feel guilty about it. But mostly, just being home and walking around my house and just let these little moments become my inspiration for creating work without the pressure of having to end up with a series to showcase.
And on the flip of that, is there something that you have lost during this time? Is it something you will leave behind or you hope to find again?
I can’t wait to be with my family and friends. I miss having my best friends around and I just miss human contact in general. We Cubans love to party, my family is having a really hard time because they aren’t able to have their weekly gathers. It is a cultural thing that involves music, food, people and just celebrating the act of being together, it is a beautiful thing.
Is there a work of art, a poem, a piece of music, a manifesto, a book, etc. that has brought you strength or solace during this time?
I have been reading a book that I bought when I was in Cuba last year that’s called “La Pintura Como Expansión de la Conciencia” which translates to “Painting as the Expansion of the Mind” and it is an interview to Cuban artist Tomas Sanchez. In it he explains how much meditations and yoga influence the way he creates his beautiful landscapes and it has inspired me to create more landscapes myself.
ricderricardo.com | Instagram: @Ricder_Ricardo | Facebook: Ricder_Ricardo
He is currently taking portrait commissions!
About the HOUSE CALL Series
Yellow House is checking in with the artists, writers, performers, and activists who have filled our space with their works and voices. During a time of crisis, creatives are faced with the same challenges, anxieties, and opportunities as most of us, yet they can offer unique perspectives on how to adjust, evolve, and understand. As observers and empaths, they can help us see ourselves and the world around us more fully. And in all honesty, I just wanted to know how our people are doing during this time of threat from virus, social distancing, continued work, and adaptation. One aspect of community care is to check in our neighbors and we are doing it the way we know how, through a series of intimate glimpses into lives authentically shared.
Interviewed by Hope McMath