J. Kirk Richards
“Some people find peace in things that are pretty–the picture of the calm only, ignoring the storm that just passed. I don’t find peace there. Rather, I find beauty in struggles–in the great swirl of an infinite universe that exists in contrasts. There is a myriad of lessons to be learned from examining the whole.
I believe in the divine, and my artwork is an ongoing attempt to reach out towards divinity. Art documents my wrestle with the angel–my struggle to reconcile heaven with earth, light with dirt, spirit with passion.”
Figurative artist J. Kirk Richards is becoming increasingly known for his accomplishments as a painter of Judeo-Christian themes. While not all of his paintings are overtly religious, the majority of his themes stem from spiritual ideas and narratives. He continues to work in a surprising variety of styles, but most of his paintings exhibit a love for the human figure, general use of symbolism and metaphor, and an emphasis on lyric composition.
Kirk was born near Brigham Young University, the fourth of eight musical children. He attributes much of his love for the arts to an early emphasis on musical training in the home. As a teen, his interests turned from music to visual arts. He took private lessons from artist Clayton Williams to supplement his public school studies. Upon graduation, Richards was accepted into the B.Y.U. art program where he studied with artists Bruce Smith, Hagen Haltern, Gary Barton, James Christensen, Wulf Barsch, Joe Ostraff, and others.
Kirk served a two-year church mission in the areas surrounding Rome, Italy. On occasional breaks, he took advantage of opportunities to visit great Italian masterpieces. Among other things, the experience influenced his palette, which often consists of subdued browns and rusts.
Kirk took a break from University studies to briefly apprentice with Swiss-born symbolist Patrick Devonas. Richards attributes his learning of classical realist skills to the instruction he received from Devonas in Princeton, New Jersey.
Kirk’s artwork has been featured in various shows and publications, including the BYU Museum of Art Beholding Salvation: The Life of Christ in Word and Image show and accompanying book, Lee Groberg’s PBS Documentary and book entitled Sweetwater Rescue: The Willie and Martin Handcart Story, Helen Whitney’s PBS Frontline Documentary entitled The Mormons: An American Experience, the Covenant Communications publications entitled Images and Testimonies of the Living Christ, The Holy Bible: New Testament, and The LDS Family Hymnbook. His painting The Paralytic is featured on the cover of Jeffrey R. Holland’s newest book, Broken Things to Mend. Kirk’s artwork has appeared multiple times on the cover of BYU Studies Magazine and in the Ensign and Liahona magazines. He has been featured in articles by Meridian Magazine, Deseret News, 15 Bytes, and LDStoday.com. He recently had a solo show at the Springville Museum of Art. Another solo exhibition is scheduled at the Dolores Eccles Fine Art Center in the fall of 2010. His work is also slated for the December 2009 cover of the non-denominational Christian magazine The Upper Room.
The work of J. Kirk Richards has won first place awards in various shows, including the Springville Museum of Art Annual Spring Salon and Religious Show; Renaissance Center Juried Show in Nashville, Tennessee; Provo Arts Council Freedom Festival Fine Art Exhibit; Bountiful/Davis Art Center Statewide Art Competition; Southern Virginia University Annual Shenandoah Invitational Art Show; the Twentieth & Twenty-First Robert N. & Peggy Sears 2007 & 2008 Dixie State Invitational Art Shows; and the Museum of Church History and Art International Art Competitions (Award of Merit and Purchase Award).
Richards’ work is mostly found in private collections across the country. Select public collections include the LDS Church Museum of History and Art in Salt Lake City, the Springville Museum of Art, and the Orem Public Library.