Bill Richards has created new standards for art programs in healthcare settings by redefining art's therapeutic potential in terms of serious artistic intent. Described as the artist with the highest achievement to enter the healthcare arena (with an exhibition list including the Whitney, Guggenheim, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia Museums of Art, The Institute of Contemporary Art, and others,) Richards created the Harlem Horizon Art Studio at Harlem Hospital Center in NYC in 1988. He defined and directed this program for more than ten years during which time it became internationally acclaimed for originality and success. The success was measured by patients' health improvement, highlighted by a quadriplegic regaining ambulation, and the production of outstanding works of art.
Over a span of ten years, the Harlem Horizon Art Studio had twenty-one exhibitions in the NYC area and a traveling show which toured the USA for eighteen months with a full-color catalog sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. The Studio's bibliography includes feature articles in New York Magazine, Seven Arts, and One World Magazines, The New York Times, and NY Newsday, plus special segments on ABC Good Morning America, CNBC The Real Story, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, ABC Home Talk Show, CBS Channel 2 News (two-part) Special, and Fox Network's The McCreary Report. Richards' art/healthcare innovations have been noted in the books, "A Call for Connection" and the special education textbook published by Harcourt Brace, "Exceeding the Boundaries - Understanding Exceptional Lives" (introduction by Richards.) With funding from the W. T. Grace Foundation, Richards wrote and published, in 1991, the seminal booklet on how to start and operate an art program in healthcare facilities entitled, "Art of Necessity".
During this span of time, Richards kept his own painting career alive with several exhibitions, most notably, Donald Kuspit's "Painting Beyond the Death of Painting" exhibition in Moscow and a one-person exhibition at Ricco/Maresca Gallery, Soho, NYC. He is represented in the permanent collection of the Guggenheim, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Newark, and Miami-Dade Museums plus numerous corporate and private collections.
In March of 1999, Richards left the Harlem studio to create an art program at the new Northeast Center for Special Care in Lake Katrine, NY. His stated objective for this state-of-the-art rehabilitation complex for brain injuries was to create the best art program in a healthcare facility in the world. Already, the Center is being transformed into a patients' museum with the conspicuous presence of forty outstanding paintings hanging in the building's public spaces. Also, his envisioned monumental sculpture garden, begun during the summer of 1999, represents an ongoing collaboration between artists, patients, foundations, colleges and the community.
Bill Richards has emerged as the central figure for artists who want to simultaneously pursue their own artistic careers while contributing to improved quality of life for others. After a long artistic career, Richards has developed a major painting style which both summarizes his previous work and encapsulates his other endeavor, dealing with levels of consciousness in the rehabilitation through art of individuals which Traumatic Brain Injury.
Richards' current paintings are the result of an innovative painting process he has developed over the past six years, producing extraordinary results. This process entails dictating and controlling the conditions and chemical reactions in a unique combination of paint and ground applications. He not only discovered how to create these reactions, but develops their occurrences into compelling and mesmerizing paintings. These paintings are singular in their surface organization, spatial illusion, and sensual visual intrigue.
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