Richard Overfield | Microencapsulated
acrylic on cotton canvas | 1974
After graduation from Arizona State University with a B.A. in English, I moved to Seattle, WA., for graduate study at the U of W. I maintained a studio as an undergraduate at ASU and as soon as I arrived in Seattle I rented a studio on 1st Avenue near the Pike Place Market and got to work. I painted full time in grad school. At some point not altogether clear to me, I realized that I was headed for a career as a visual artist as opposed to a poet teaching at a university. In 1973, I withdrew from grad school and began painting full time. Initially, my paintings were landscapes and portraits. In the late 60's and early 70's, minimalism was rearing its peculiar head in the art world. At university I minored in philosophy and read Edmund Husserl's phenomenology and I was particularly fascinated by his reductivist methods and his preoccupation with presuppositionless knowledge. I routinely used grids to transfer images from various sources onto my canvases. I decided to do a series of grid-based paintings using a reductivist method and removing anything I considered extraneous to painting as an art form. I wanted to know if it was possible to find that point where painting crossed a line between art and not art. I didn’t find it. What I found was that art is a liberating process that poses the opportunity and the necessity to make up the rules that govern what we end up doing as artists. It was exactly that exciting sense of release and liberation that, at thirteen, drew me to art. Reductivist methods are simply a procedure leading to a set of results. For me, they were nonobjective results.