Richard Garrison


My work reflects personal observations and interactions with the familiar.  I collect information from typically overlooked aspects of daily life, such as big box stores, drive-thru menus, product packaging, and suburban parking lots.  The data is then transformed into chart-like abstractions that restructure elements of color, place and time. Through systematic processes that dissect contemporary landscape and lifestyle, the often under observed palette and design of American consumerism is revealed. 

Circular Color Schemes is an ongoing series derived from weekly advertisement flyers distributed from “big box” and chain stores.  Each drawing is structured according to a systematic interpretation of a selected weekly ad design.  Components such as text, graphics and imagery are measured and mathematically converted into proportionally represented drawn wedges within a circular grid.  The relative length of each wedge is determined by the number of colors and values observed in each item.  Colors of graphics and advertised items are carefully matched and hand-painted onto corresponding wedges using watercolor and gouache.  Color wedges within the circular grid are then labelled with graphite to identify the product imagery, pricing and graphics from the weekly ad.  The resultant display of impersonal content intimately deconstructs, transforms and emphasizes the often unobserved palette of American consumerism.

Product Packaging utilizes the residue of personal consumption to generate colorful collages from cardboard packaging of purchased household items. Cardboard packaging is hand-cut into geometric shapes, then restructured through specific system-based arrangements that serve to organize elements by scale and color. Each work serves as an abstracted record of our household consumption.

Shopping Cart Inertia is a more performative-based drawing process that generates an erratic array of tangled lines characteristic of Surrealist automatic drawing. A self-constructed drawing device is situated within a shopping cart used to systematically navigate through a big box store in search of each product in a weekly ad. The drawing process results in a random array of intersecting lines and irregular ink spots, which function to record the time, movement and direction of a shopping cart pushed through numerous store aisles to locate advertised products. The items in the flier are then listed at the bottom of each drawing.

Other works such as the Destination Color Schemes and Parking Lot Spaces examine often overlooked elements within the American consumer landscape. Using sites of observation such as Walmart, Disneyworld’s Cinderella Castle, strip malls and parking lots, the color of ordinary elements are collected using photography, then matched, painted, labeled and arranged in a conventional color chart design. This process gives rise to a painted collection of colors from largely unremarkable features that serve structural and functional purpose at each location, such as signs, fire exits, and pest control traps.

By using rigorous formulas and systems as methods to objectively dissect the scenery common to the suburban American landscape, a distorted presence of utopian ideals is exposed in these modern achievements of convenience and living. Interaction with this seemingly impersonal content reveals an ambiguous sense of intimate distance within the inherent banality of consumerism that infiltrates almost every aspect of my personal life and household.