After receiving the B.F.A. degree from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, Mark Ritchie spent a year in Cardiff, Wales at South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education and in Aberdeen, Scotland at Peacock Printmakers. He was awarded the M.F.A. degree in Printmaking from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana in 1990. He worked as an Artist-in-Residence for the Georgia Arts Council in schools and briefly in a prison in Georgia. After teaching at Universities in Georgia and Texas he accepted a position at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming where he is a Professor in the Department of Art.
In Wyoming he addressed his midlife crisis with a mustang – the kind with hooves, not tires. This relationship has informed his studio practice and lead to wonderful adventures in Mongolia, China, Hungary and in his “own backyard” in Wyoming. He exhibits nationally and internationally, but prefers the quiet, windy solitude of Wyoming as a place to be and work with artist-wife, Leah Hardy.
“My work with horse imagery draws upon the interaction of horses with each other and an animal understanding that is possible between human and equine. These relationships both require trust, an awareness of self in a community, and most importantly an awareness of place. I have inevitably begun to consider and address in my work the complex role of the wild/feral horse populations in my home in the American West as well as experiences with the domestic horse.
The collagraphs in this exhibition are part of a body of work produced while a visiting artist in China. They were printed in the printmaking studio at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art in Guangzhou China. The horse in modern China is ever-present as a symbol, but horses are few in urban China. The messenger between earth and heaven advertises businesses and products and occupies a place in the popular visual lexicon. At home in Wyoming, I work from life – in the field with horses. In China, I found myself working from memory and the idea of the horse. In the studio in China, I produced simple collagraphic plates with carborundum (the same abrasive found on sandpaper) and acrylic medium on both chipboard and corrugated cardboard. I printed these intaglio plates in several layers and incorporated stencils. This work was produced in a variety of variations using the same blocks with different colors and printed in different orders. The process allowed me to sustain and distill some of my personal experiences with the horse and to begin to understand the Chinese cultural perspective of the horse.” Mark Ritchie