In what turned out to be a prescient decision, BD Richardson, fresh from earning a master’s degree from American University, began a habit of carrying a camera everywhere she went. Beginning with a trip to China as part of a women’s press group in 1980, she captured bits and pieces of that huge country just prior to its national efforts to modernize. After that, no place in the world was exempt from her restless eye: Paris, South America, North America’s heartland with its aging buildings and big skies, and coastal villages replete with fishing boats and seamen. Lately she has focused her camera up close on plant forms turning their growth patterns into mandalas.
Taking photos was only the first part of BD’s artistic process. Saving the negatives and slides for future development during a long hiatus (raising a family and a business) was key. Then taking the leap from dark room techniques like salt print developing to using digital techniques opened more possibilities. On the computer she remastered and reinterpreted older images, bringing them alive again--a laborious process, but a gratifying one. Exploring metallic photographic papers and other contemporary professional tools now at her disposal heightened her passion for the photographic process. Some images are hand-printed onto film and then transferred by hand to aged metal plates. Others are printed on metallic paper and sandwiched between Plexiglas and aluminum.
In Richardson’s Touchstone Gallery exhibition Moments & Methods: Mosaics, 45 images taken between the 1970’s and 2017 are on display during the month of January 2018. The muted warm gray tones of spacious land, sky and sea are home to solitary buildings, lone figures, and boats. In most of the works, subdued environments include brief interludes of red or yellow color in stacked plastic pails and buoys, or a field of pale green grass, or an overturned red and white lifeguard stand. Dramatically lit cloud formations emphasize huge skies in the heartland of America, and symbolize both the deleterious power of storms and rain they bring to make farm life possible in the Midwest. Intricate crop patterns and plowed fields lie powerfully under these skies, sometimes punctuated by a lone aging building or a single figure. In contrast, her more recent plant form images flaunt more vibrant colors while excluding the grays.
Human presence is overt in many works, or implied through park benches, light poles, balustrades, wheels, buildings, vehicles and ships. A lone Chinese woman embroiders tapestries by the feeble light of a single bulb. In the mist a waterman tends to his small boat. Richardson’s color palette depicts a world similar to that of painter Andrew Wyeth, whose monochrome tones with touches of color speak of the simplicity of the American spirit as it once was a century ago. “It's all in how you arrange the thing... the careful balance of the design is the motion,” he says, and Richardson is equally careful, capturing repetition, pattern and form with her discerning eye. –Rosemary Luckett
Moments & Methods: Mosaics exhibit can be seen from January 4 – 28, 2018 at Touchstone Gallery— 901 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001 -- 202-347-2787 — Info@touchstonegallery.com — http://www.touchstonegallery.com Wednesday- Friday 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 12-5