Victoria Rickards, a contemporary abstract artist and Columbia resident, hosted her first solo exhibition in Columbia in early October, which explored universal, as well as personal themes.
The Miami-born artist paid homage to the vibrant and colorful surroundings of her hometown in her new collection, "The Illusory World of Hidden Realities," which was showcased at the SWIFF Brand store in Five Points on Oct. 7.
The Daily Gamecock sat down with Rickards to discuss her abstract art, her journey so far and the importance of representing her heritage in her work.
The Daily Gamecock: How did you begin your journey in the art world?
Rickards: "School really was what got me into it at first. I grew up in Miami. So it's a very artsy area. And I was very influenced by everything I was seeing."
"In elementary school, I was put in this exhibition ... They had it (set up) like an actual gallery ... and that moment was when I was really like, 'I want everything.'
"I wanted to major in lighting, and I graduated college — didn't do anything with that. I came home, and I was working as a data analyst online ... I had an iPad that I bought when I was in college, and I had the (Apple) pencil. So, I was like, 'Maybe I should make an art thing. Draw for fun.' So, I was — drawing sketches and various things and putting it out there. And then I just slowly started liking it and sticking to it."
"I tabled in my friend's backyard one time, and I made like $200. And I was like, 'Wow, we're in the backyard making money?' So I looked toward the Soda City Market, and I started there.”
How does your heritage influence your work?
"Within me is a couple different cultures. My (grandfather's) family is from Jamaica. My (grandmother's) family is from Trinidad and Tobago. And then my mom — she's from the Bahamas. So, there's that influence like that.
"But I didn't really grow up with my mom. So the Bahamas is something I'm kind of seeking on my own. She didn't raise me. My dad did. So I was raised primarily with the (culture of) Trinidad in Jamaica. So (in 'Echoes of the Odyssey') I was really showing various things that I grew up with."
"There's the carnival (piece), which is a Trini festival ... It's basically a tradition that stems back from slavery, and it's just continued on to this to this day. But it's something that we do once a year. And it's colorful and represents the people as well as what we've gone through. So that is a very important part of our culture."
What was the main inspiration for your new collection?
"Raw real emotions, I'd say. They're just honest depictions of my feelings or things that I'm going through as a 20-something who's feeling lost. Paranoia, deceit, mistrust — things like that.
How does being an artist in Columbia differ from Miami?
"I've split my life between both places. I think I lived in Miami until I was 14. So it's almost fifty-fifty of my life in both places."
"People love art here, too. I just don't see as many murals. But I think for the space, it's growing, and I see more and more. And I see a lot of opportunities for artists, in the sense that a lot of people are very interested, and they want you to come paint their building."
"I like the old feel to Columbia. So I feel like that, mixed with modern art (and) artists now ... I think that's very important. It documents what the climate is of the city. I'd say though, color-wise, I'm too steeped in the tea of Miami to break away from that color palette.”
What has been your biggest challenge so far as an artist?
"The challenge is getting a lot of people to know who I am — the marketing part. That's a challenge. Because I know that the product is good. People just need to know who the hell I am. So, getting it out there. That's been a challenge for me.
"I can't even say staying consistent (is a challenge) anymore because I'm so driven by it lately, and I don't have unrealistic expectations for myself ... I kind of just move with what I feel like. So, if I feel like painting, sure. If I don't, I give myself a break, because that's the difference between working a nine-to-five and working for yourself."
"I only make art when it's genuine. Because there's a certain energy that I want to put into it. Someone has it in their house. I want it to give them good energy too.”
How would you describe your creative process?
"I first start by taking the canvas and putting it in my face where I can see it. Then I look at the paints and try to think because I'm the type of artist that I work with what I have. I think that adds to making the paintings ... It makes me think more."
"Sometimes I mix colors, but I'm not the best with mixing. I have to learn more color theory. I learned a lot of color theory with lighting (in college). ... I do use my degree in today's time because we're doing a lot of film and things like that. And I film myself, make videos and things like that now. So I'm using the degree at least."
"After I've set up the paints, and like I said, it's a very limited space and range of color. So I'll look at it and I'll play music."
What plans do you have moving forward after your first exhibition?
"One of my biggest things right now that I'm trying to do is just get myself out there, beyond just Columbia."
"Columbia is very nice, but Miami is where artists can make it truly. Here I can (make it), but it's going to take a lot longer. So I wanted to go back.
"So I've been trying to get into fine art shows. That's been my latest thing. And I'm scheduled to go to the one in Brickell, which is Miami's art area. So that's coming up in January.
"I also got accepted to go to Miami Art Basel, which is like the New York Fashion Week of Art."
"Honestly, I'm really focused on Miami right now ... I want to have a following in the places where I'm from, the places that I spent the most time — then we'll think about everyone else."