bio and statement


Richard Garriott-Stejskal was born in Annicortes, Washington, in 1944, but grew up in Omaha Nebraska, where his father moved the family after returning from World War II. After receiving his BFA in Sculpture from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, he worked for a short time in a media center for the Omaha public schools, and then briefly with an Architectural sculptor. Later, while in graduate school at the University of New Mexico, he worked at a local Veteran's medical center; he decided to finish his MA, feeling "that the only thing [an] MFA...was good for was teaching in a university...." It was 1970,and Garriott-Stejskal says that at the time there were no programs or organizations for art therapy, "so I invented my own version of it." He became the first registered art therapist in New Mexico and worked at the Veteran's Administration for 25 years, all the while pursuing and exhibiting his artwork. After taking early retirement in 1995, he began working part-time as Gallery Director for Very Special Arts Gallery and was the staff trainer for the Enabled Arts Center for Very Special Arts New Mexico. 

"My work is about the human condition. Not specific people, but a kind of general statement about the condition of human kind at the dawning of the 21st Century. I work using the human figure and head as a starting point. By putting a recognizable human form in front of the viewer I make it easier for the viewer to connect with my work. I juxtapose the figure with elements that may at first seem discordant in order to create metaphors that will I hope shine a glimmer of light on man’s place in the world. My work can be funny, sad, scary and at times and to different people all three. I love word plays and I love visual puns. Like T.S. Eliot’s “J. Alfred Prufrock” I hope my work makes the viewer smile and at the same time squirm with recognition.

My first experience with clay was in Tennessee. I was in first grade and my father had been called back to active duty during the Korean War. We moved to a trailer court just outside of Fort Campbell. The ground was a lovely red clay. One day I made a whole set of clay toys and tools and left them to dry on the porch steps. While wonderfully plastic, the clay didn’t hold together as it dried. I returned to find them all cracked apart. That first experiment linked forever clay and my imagination. It also made it clear that the importance is in the making not in the keeping.

I coil build almost exclusively. Coil building has a rhythm that I like. It is a very different process from throwing or from carving. I can almost conceive of the form of a piece from the first coil. I begin to feel as if I have become a kind of a channel for ideas. It is the doing that seems to be the stimulation for ideas and connections that I probably couldn’t make consciously.

As I get older I look back a bit more. I can see more of a pattern to my ideas and interests. They weave through out my life. The other day I reread Kafka’s Metamorphoses, a story that has served as a touchstone for me for years. It was both as I remembered it and not at all the same. In some ways my new work is a re-seeing of ideas I’ve carried with me for a long time but from a very formative place. I still feel a sense of wonder as each idea appears and reappears for me."

Richard Garriott-Stejskal, Albuquerque, NM

Richard Garriott-Stejskal, Albuquerque, NM