Rick Griffith


Exhibition Artist Statement: Of the four themes—and four participants—our theme was ableism. A term that we were just becoming more sensitive to, something to help us with understanding how we consciously and subconsciously discriminate against people who have a spectrum of abilities not always what we think of as 'normative'—To better understand Ableism we have to move well past wheelchairs, curb-cuts, and hearing aids to how we view bodies, how we idealize both women and men, and how we view birth defects (more sensitively and collectively called congenital disorders)—we also have this enormous archive to explore. What’s the connection and what do these artifacts—in these places have buried in their pasts.

The most important thing left to do was transform the prints physically. To change them into a commentary for this time and to remove the kind of nostalgia which has held the visual products of circus enterprise in a harmless spectacle. I suppose we thought this transformation to be a kind of ‘radicalization’. Which felt very necessary for the theme. And necessary for radicalized people.

It doesn’t serve us to empower myths of the past with more nostalgia. It does invite a role for myth into our lives as collectors and storytellers, it even invites a rarified fetishism of the numerous objects (sometimes tools) we encounter along the way. However, with any reasonable dig into history—any discussion aims to be bigger and more expansive than the artifacts we encounter, and to the credit of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, they were prepared and excited to see what 4 artists would do with the four themes they provided.

Rick Griffith is a British-West-Indian collagist, writer, letterpress printer, designer, and optimist futurist. Based in Denver, Colorado. As a designer, he works at the intersections of programming, policy, and production. Designing events, contributing to policy, and creating artifacts. He is a columnist for PRINTmagazine.com, 2-time programming chair for the AIGA National Conference, and a Juror for the 2022 Smithsonian National Design Awards. He is the 2023 Acuff Chair at Austin Peay State University. Making and sharing are central to his cyclical, evolutionary, liberatory practice. His works are collected and exhibited worldwide and can be found in the permanent collections of The Denver Art Museum, The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, Columbia University's Butler Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts, and The Tweed Museum at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

He is a founder and partner with Debra Johnson of the graphic design consultancy MATTER, the designer behind the Black Astronaut Research Project, The Pledge for Spaces, and the Introductory Ethic for Designers and Other Thinking Persons. He co-owns a retail revolutionary bookstore and book club for designers. He DJs a live Internet Radio show Design To Kill Tuesdays at 4 pm Mountain Time. Playing Punk, Post Punk, and other non-conforming music.