Emily Ritz is a multimedia artist and musician whose art reflects the subconscious realm of her dreams. Hyper-detailed, Ritz’s work combines natural textures with female figures that blur the line between body and earth. “I’ve always been drawn to the tiny textures and fractals that make up the natural world. Shapes, curves and colors really speak to me, and I’ve found ways of working that mimic those organic shapes.
Emily to Lumpland: Art, Body and Self-Love With Emily Ritz
Emily in Lumpland
Art, Body and Self-Love With Emily Ritz
The creator of “Lumpland”, artist Emily Ritz explores self-love and healing through ceramics, paperwork and music.
By Lynn Woods
General arts and culture
Until recently, Ritz worked primarily in watercolor and pen on paper. His process involved wetting the paper, then dripping paint so that it spread in unpredictable ways. Once dry, she would fill in the colors with her patterns, almost like an upside-down coloring book, a process she finds meditative and satisfying. With ceramic, Ritz creates three-dimensional versions of patterns, drawing one shape at a time, repeating and sculpting tiny shapes by hand, resulting in a textured object evoking coral reefs. Lately she has started working with acrylic on wood panels, which requires more thought and layering to achieve the desired effect.
“It’s fun to involve my mind more in the process and explore what seems like endless possibilities. My new series, ‘Flora as Fauna’, is almost a study in plants where I begin to discover what I can do in this new world. Each painting takes anywhere from 30 to over 150 hours, depending on size and level of detail,” Ritz explains.
Through a process of repeating patterns and letting herself be guided by her mediums, she achieves a seductive collaboration. “I am a very feminine and sensual being and when I made the choice to analyze less and create from a place of play and curiosity, it all naturally came to fruition,” she adds.
Inspired by her grandmother, Betty LaCasse, internationally recognized for her work in textiles, Ritz’s work contains themes of self-care. Having contracted Lyme disease, Ritz battled arthritis and autoimmune diseases, which limited his physical mobility throughout his life. Music and art help her escape the limitations of her body, and she aims to turn her struggles into expression with a unique artistic style.
Fertility themes are evident in Ritz’s work. About this regenerative aspect of nature, she says: “The fecundity of the plant world really amazes me. I absorb it abstractly rather than study it closely. Nature’s resilience and abundance give me comfort in knowing that it will outlive us. I try to reflect nature in my artistic practice by letting one idea lead me to the next without too much planning. By trusting my hand and trusting the flow, my work changes faster when I move to a new medium. I am lucky to always feel ready to burst creating an infinitely fertile and constantly evolving creative process.
The human figure is an integral part of his work. “I started doing self-portraits to heal my relationship with my body,” says Ritz. “I never love my form more than on paper. The more I paint myself, the more I appreciate my body in all its dimensions. I like to paint my form as a way to see myself healed and part of the Earth. The human form is accessible to everyone and can bring people deeper into my world.
Ritz is also an accomplished musician and has toured for over a decade. Her second album, In Love Alone, was released in 2021. Her music explores the duality of existence, playing loneliness versus catharsis, desire versus healing, and loneliness versus love. “My artistic and musical practices serve very different and necessary purposes for me,” says Ritz. “Writing and performing offer bursts of catharsis while painting and sculpting are more of a daily meditation. Both refer to nature and my body. Switching from one art form to another is easier on my body and helps me move through the emotional experience of chronic pain more smoothly. While focusing on one modality, the other naturally recharges. That way I never run out of creative juice.
“Flora as Fauna”, the Ritz’s first solo exhibition, will be presented at Artwork by Arcy Simpson in Hudson from August 6 to September 10.
“Flora as Fauna”
@ D’Arcy Simpson artwork
409 Warren Street
When: Aug. 6-Sept. ten
Art galleries and exhibitions