Welcome to our “Coffee With…” series, where we chat with past Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show artists about their show experience and how it helped shape their artistic endeavors. Today we sit down with John Riggi, who exhibited at the 2014 Craft Show with The University of the Arts (UArts).
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
John Riggi: I’m an artist and fabricator currently living and working in Philadelphia. Last year I graduated with a Bachelors in Fine Arts in Craft and Material Studies with a focus in Textiles, which led me to my current teaching assistant position with Warren Seelig at UArts. I’ve exhibited in galleries in Philadelphia, New York, and Korea. In addition to my teaching role, I am also a studio assistant for Alex Da Corte, a contemporary sculptural artist, and work in sales at 10th Street Hardware.
Q: How did you get involved in art?
JR: My parents, who were always supportive of me, enrolled me in classes at a young age when they saw my developing fascination with art. I remember being inspired by the opportunity to create something that doesn’t exist – I thought it was the coolest thing! Now as an adult with a heavy studio practice I still think that’s the best thing about being an artist.
Q: How did you get involved with the 2014 PMA Craft Show?
JR: At the time I was a junior at UArts and was fortunate enough to be one of the students selected to exhibit work in the school’s booth.
Q: What was it like to exhibit? Did you learn anything about yourself as an artist?
JR: Exhibiting at the Show was very different from my previous experiences. Beforehand, I only had works featured in a few smaller galleries. Exhibiting in the Craft Show was not only a huge personal honor, but was the first time I had seen my work alongside specific craft mediums in a large setting. It was an incredible opportunity that made me reflect on my own work and where I wanted to go next. Ultimately, it led me to pursue more contemporary and fine art exhibitions, since I felt that was the direction my work was headed in.
Q: It sounds like The Craft Show really helped refine your artistic path and where your work fits into different mediums. Since exhibiting, what have you been up to? How have you grown as an artist?
JR: Currently, I’m working on my portfolio during a residency at UArts and installing a show for Alex Da Corte at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (commonly known as MASS MoCA). I’m very excited to be working on his new exhibit, “Free Roses,” which is his first major museum survey. This whole process has really opened my eyes as to what it takes to create an exhibition like this.
Q: What trends in your field are you most excited about?
JR: Car paint and anodizing! For those who don’t know, anodizing is basically the process used to increase the thickness on the surface of metal parts. I’m also excited about the fact that equipment and materials have become more accessible to artists.
Q: What artists serve as inspiration to you?
JR: I’m inspired by so many artists, including: Victor Solomon Tauba Auerbach, Alicja Kwade, Matias Faldbakken, Ry Rocklen, Brian Rochefort, Matt Calderwood, Allen Jones. I could go on.
Q: What's your favorite craft that you own?
JR: I own a really amazing Batik drawing my best friend did of Daisy Duck. Batik is really cool; it’s basically a way of decorating cloth using wax and dye.
Q: What's your ideal night out in Philly?
JR: My ideal night in Philly is going out and acting like I don’t have to work the next day.
Interested in exhibiting in this year’s Craft Show? Apply by April 1st at http://bit.ly/PMA16app.
To see more of John Riggi’s work check out his online portfolio at http://www.johnriggi.com/