Michael Richards

Transition to Sculpture

By the mid-1990s, Richards began to shift his practice from room-sized installations to more autonomous sculptures. He acknowledged this transition in his work, noting in 1997 that, “Until recently, I’ve primarily made installations, and now I’m doing smaller sculptural objects, while focusing more on an internal debate.” In this span, Richards participated in a number of pivotal artist residencies including the AIM Fellowship at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (1994) and the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Artist-in-Residence program (1995–96). In these community-minded spaces of supported artistic and professional development, Richards was experimental and prolific. Formal explorations included creating kinetic and sonic artworks, as well as incorporating motors, lights, and music into his sculptures. Richards also began to interweave concept, imagery, and material, including his first overt references to religion and spirituality. Additionally during this time, Richards extended his interrogation and confrontation with pervasive anti-Blackness, directly addressing persistently relevant issues such as racially motivated police brutality.