When artist Cristin Ríchard crafts her work, she explores the complexity of the human experience, diving deeply into humanity’s connection to the natural world. Her creations vary from wearable art to installations and performances. She usually works with natural materials (such as fur, human hair, and byproducts of the meat-packing industry), which she says hold information about history and society and mirror the human life cycle.
For Beneath the Skin, her 2014 exhibit in New York, Ríchard created objects made of reconstructed animal intestines that resembled garments and garment bags. The concept was intended to reflect women’s struggles with societal expectations about preserving their own skin and appearance. Excess Baggage, her exhibit for Detroit Month of Design last September, featured mirrored pedestals and translucent handbags made of sausage casing that sat on top of plexiglass boxes holding soil and grass. Viewers were encouraged to reflect on humans’ relationship to nature and what a sustainable future might look like.
Last November, through her Detroit art and design research studio House of Raw, she released a limited drop of accessories made of upcycled fur at Détroit Is the New Black. The collection was Ríchard’s way, she says, of questioning the future of luxury. Here, Ríchard tells us about her own eclectic style, where she finds inspiration — and how a residency in Iceland transformed her view of the world.
Personal style: I love ’70s-colored shirts. I have a specific rainy day shirt that has a funny ’70s print of a couple sitting under an umbrella. I really like bold prints and patterns, but I think that lately it’s really dependent on my mood.
Favorite local art spot: Popps Packing. They’re in Hamtramck and it’s a husband-wife duo, Graem and Faina. What I love about them is that they’ve taken this piece of land and basically activated it for like a residency, artist community. I really love the vibe.
Where she likes to work: I loved hanging out at The Siren Hotel. The lobby is gorgeous. I’ve made friends with some of the staff members and I just think it’s so cozy.
Music on repeat: I listen to a lot of French Yé-yé, like French pop music from the ’60s. I love that.
Life-changing travel experience: My time in Iceland was more impactful than all of my travels combined. I was there in the dead of winter. Icelanders embrace the cold. We spent a lot of time swimming in geothermal-heated outdoor pools, swimming under the stars. In March, the days grew longer and I could feel the energy from the sun. My hair grew five inches over my three-month stay. My skin was the healthiest I’d ever seen. I grew a fondness for winter, and the isolation felt calming. The northern lights were the most illusive and magical thing I’ve ever seen. It completely changed my outlook on the natural world.
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