January 18 – April 16, 2020
Reception March 19, 2020
Rick Wright practices photography as a malleable and sculptural medium. This Philadelphia photographer inhabits the persona of a c. 4300 CE archaeologist: a scientist stumbling onto a cache of preserved vessels crafted out of an unknown synthetic material. This Dada series of catalogued “artifacts” explores how a future society might interpret contemporary plastic containers. The project is driven by Wright’s creative lens work; the objects taking on new form, expression, and meaning. There are 27 digital photographs in his whole collection—printed with tri-tone pigment ink on Hahnemühle Bamboo paper at 12” x 18”.
Wright states, “Over the course of a full year, I ventured out into my Philadelphia neighborhood on recycling night. The purpose of my stroll was to dig through the blue bins piled high with plastic containers. The street lamps provided the perfect overhead lighting – akin to that original laundry room bulb – by which to preview the “personality” of each vessel. Wright goes on to say, “Photography suffers the unfortunate condition of looking like reality and it is the first thing to transcend as a photographer.”
He trained first as an oil painter at Princeton and Columbia Universities (BA and MFA), then later morphed into a photographer with studies at ICP in NY with Nan Goldin, Susan Meiselas, Dorit Cypis, and Danny Lyon. Wright is a Philadelphia-based photographer working as a fine artist, an architectural photographer, and an instructor.
The Vessels of the Late Petroleum Age were featured on the cover of LensWork #144 magazine (Sept.-Oct. 2019); along with a 16-page spread. The work has also appeared online in Float Magazine and garnered a Fleisher Faculty Fellowship Award. Wright is currently working on a book of the series with a professional writer.
Several of his photographs reside in permanent collections: Houston Museum of Fine Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Creon Collection, Johnson & Johnson Collection, and The University of Pennsylvania. Wright keeps his studio in Philadelphia (past 13 years) and teaches photography at Fleisher Art Memorial, Peter’s Valley School of Art & Craft, and The Halide Project.
“Photography is 93% of my life,” says Wright. “The other 7% is occupied by typewriter repair, short story writing, and life model sketching. I chose photography over painting for its speed, joy, and unexpected bends of reality.”