Rick Parson

Artist Statement

My practcice is a form of visual poetry, using materials as metaphor to conceptually focus on the effect of environmental pollutants on the body, my work serves as record of my thoughts and feelings on specific social or political events. This information is then filtered and distilled into materials that have a metaphorical significance. In my work clay represents the body and biology; saltwater heals, preserves and destroys; and steel is the social and spiritual structure that we build our lives around. My aesthetic draws from memories of living on the Gulf Coast of Texas and mirrors the power of that climate and region. I create objects that reference my past, filtered through my present state of mind. The irony of the sculpture is that the same material that is used as the healing agent is also the catalyst for destruction.

My current work has been exploration of automatic writing, jazz thinking and three-dimensional form while addressing the environment. I use humble domestic objects, such as the spoon representing heat, salt constumption, in combination with substances, to make statements about our environmental and personal health. The work explores ideas about toxins and dioxins in our environment and our food sources. Heat represents an unseen catalyst, which can change our genetic coding. Heat, like salt, is a beneficial and necessary component of personal and environmental health but excess can create undesirable changes, which can speed up chemical reactions. Tarpaper is used as a symbol for industry, and to represent the driving force of our current political and economic system.

Concepts of time, change, and an element of the unknown are the forces that propell my practice forward. My work comes veiled under seductive surfaces and recognizable forms that are filtered through time and distilled down to simple poetic forms.

-- Rick Parsons


Living among the snowy mountains of Nevada, Rick’s sculpture has been exhibited throughout the country. He received is Masters of Fine Arts in Ceramic from University of Dallas in 1996. Most recently he was featured in a solo exhibition at Capital City Arts Initiative, and in a solo exhibition at Santa Clara University. Rick’s sculpture was the focus of an article in Sculpture magazine and published in the book Confrontational Ceramics: The Artist as Social Critic by Judith S. Schwartz and was featured in the documentary film “Questions of Art,” by Zach Jankovic. Rick has been teaching at Sierra Nevada College for eight years and was named the 2012/2013 Faculty Member of the Year by the SNC student body and was awarded the Nazir and Mary Ansari 2014/2015 Excellence in Teaching Gold Metal Award. Previously Rick held the position of Sculpture Program Coordinator at Anderson Ranch Arts Center and has taught at both the University of Dallas, and Colorado Mountain College. Rick has been a visiting artist at San Jose State University, Colorado College, University of Miami, and Arizona State University.

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