Signs for those seeking light
Raksti tiem, kas meklē gaismu
Offering homage to Latvia’s 100th anniversary since declaring its independence in 1918, Rita Grendze’s massive installation, Signs for those seeking light, is comprised of donated and cast off books that have been cut by hand, mounted and suspended. First premiering at the National Library of Latvia in Riga during the summer of 2017, Signs for those seeking light celebrates books as objects of reverence, while also giving voice to writing as a powerful visual language. For Grendze, books are physically emotive objects, even though the contents of a book are intangible, fleeting, and often conceptual or confined to memory and history. As one of the most ancient languages spoken today, Latvian is rife with visual references that relate text, textile and symbol. The word for writing, for example, is “rakstīt,” and the root word “raksti” means both writing by hand as well as “writing” ethnographic designs, patterns and symbols, some of which can be traced back more than one thousand years. It is from this perspective that Grendze explores language and writing simultaneously as patterns, word fragments, and as environment. In its form as a physical installation, Signs for the those seeking light intends to stimulate wonder, inviting a closer look at the marks on the pages that here, have been deconstructed and reconstructed into a novel, holistic milieu.
About the artist:
Rita Grendze creates works of art from everyday objects. Her undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as her year of study in Latvia on a Fulbright Grant, focused on fiber art. For Grendze, this medium translates into a lifelong love of patterning, process, and a consistent return to using abundant or accumulated materials.
Early in her career, Grendze created found object hybrid sculptures. Many of these works embodied a surrealist sensibility, amplifying the familiar to a point of absurdity. Her work from this period was exhibited at the American Craft Museum (now MAAD) among other venues. In addition to private collections, her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Latvian National Museum of Art and the Art in Embassies Program.
In recent years, as the scale of Grendze’s work began to grow so did her focus on sharing a deeper understanding of materials with her audience. Often incorporating domestic objects or everyday items, Grendze explores physical attributes, social connotations, as well as the links between. Grendze’s large installations have included thousands of books, hundreds of shovels, and yards of thread. Her temporary installations have appeared at such sites as the Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, IL; Krasl Art Center, Saint Joseph, MI; Water Street Studios, Batavia, IL; and for the Farm Art D-Tour in Reedsburg, WI, and the National Library of Latvia, Riga, Latvia.
Balancing her large-scale work with a daily drawing practice, Grendze small scale sculptures and works on paper have been featured in solo and two-person exhibitions at Cultivator, Chicago, IL; RMX gallery, Chicago, IL; Saint Francis University gallery, Joliet, IL; Black Hawk College, Moline, IL; and a three-person show at Fermilab National Accelerator gallery, Batavia, IL. Group exhibitions include Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, Brooklyn, NY; Reading Public Museum, Reading, PA; Cranbrook Museum of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI; Aljira, Newark, NJ. Her work has been reviewed in such outlets as Fiberarts, Chicago’s Daily Chronicle, The Detroit Free Press, The Jersey Journal, and Artletter.
Signs for those seeking light is organized with support from the Latvian Cultural Ministry and in concert with initiatives across Western Michigan University’s College of Fine Arts celebrating Latvia’s centennial declaration of independence in 1918. Home to thousands of diaspora Latvians and such institutions as the Kalamazoo Latvian Association and the Latvian Center Garezers in Three Rivers, southwest Michigan has since the 1950s operated as a well-known North American hub of Latvian culture and language. The Richmond Center for Visual Arts is pleased to present the work of Rita Grendze as part of these historic celebrations. Check back in the New Year for a full schedule of events that will include concerts featuring Latvian composers and a one-day conference focused on Latvian culture, art, history and music.
Grendze has taught Fiber and Foundations at the Maryland Institute College of Art in the departments, as well as courses at Jersey City University. Since moving to the Chicago area in 2001, she has created props for outdoor spectacles, taught community workshops, completed commissions, costumed plays, and managed a not-for-profit art gallery. The bulk of her time, however, has been split between her studio and her young family. She lives with her husband and two sons in the small town of Geneva, IL.
Frostic School of Art Students and Friends of the Richmond Center Members Preview and Opening Reception, Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 5 - 7pm. MyWMU.com/FriendsofRCVA
This exhibition is possible with support from