How did you first get involved in art?
I’ve always been passionate about movies, art, and photography. I love any art that conveys a narrative. My parents encouraged me to follow my dream to study film production at NYU. As a film producer, I have lots of time on my hands — waiting for scripts to be written and agents to return phone calls— so I started making art about three years ago. If the right side of my brain is stimulated, I’ve had a good, productive day.
Do you have any art-training?
I took a painting class in high school. This was back in the day when public schools had decent art programs. Mrs. Zeller opened my eyes and mind to art and art history. I still use much of what she taught me about color theory, technique, and composition. Not every student is an engineer, so we can’t let art and music disappear from school curriculum. I was raised in New York City where all the amazing art museums and galleries were at my fingertips. It was no big deal to pop into the Museum of Modern Art for an hour. There’s nothing like seeing art in person and imagining the artist’s touch.
Where & from whom do you draw inspiration?
I draw inspiration from society and the world around me. Most of my film projects are based on true stories. I am a fan of the photographer Duane Michals. His work emulates a storyboard, or graphic novel. His photography series can be individually interpreted; there is no explanation and no one is right or wrong.
I also love the heightened reality of Alfred Hitchcock’s films and 1940’s film noir. Still images from movies are fun to study. Many times they are very well-lit and convey a myriad of emotions.
What is your connection with the Foundry Art Centre? How did you discover it?
I found the Foundry’s call for artists online and submitted some work. It’s a gorgeous space and seems to have a huge following of art lovers. I hope to visit before the show closes. They provide an outlet and support for emerging artists. Bravo.
How do you connect with people through your art? Why do you create art?
I like to hold a mirror up to society. If my work provokes, I’m successful. The physical process of creating art is very meditative. Hours fly by— the breakfast dishes are still in the sink but I’m relaxed and fulfilled. I like to express myself via my work. For example, my “Nuns vs. Burkas: Who Wore it Better?” pieces at the Foundry Art Centre expose the hypocrisy we thrust on different cultures for covering women in burkas while we romanticize nuns.
In your featured series of work at the FAC, including your award-winning piece "The Muslim Story," what is the intention of the green coloring within the narrative?
I use green to challenge our clichéd perception of skin color, which is random but, ironically, defines us. If all women were green, we’d still stereotype them as a witch, alien, or superhero.
What are you currently working on?
I am re-imagining iconic film and TV shows with minority casts; allowing a fresh perspective on how we preconceive race and skin color. For example, Pretty Woman with Richard Gere as a Muslim and I Love Lucy with her married to a black man. I am producing a feature film at HBO about Sharon Tate and am also directing a documentary about the ripple effect of gun violence in the state of Arizona.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working on art?
Between making art, I love to develop my film projects, which require interviewing subjects and researching archives. My fantasy job would be a private detective. I also love to travel.
View Rick Dallago's award-winning work in Gallery II of Arbitrary Color, on display through March 3, 2017. Keep up with Rick's projects and latest work by liking his Facebook page, and by following him on Twitter and Instagram.
Article by Jillian Schoettle.