Rita Robillard is a mixed-media artist and printmaker that has lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest for the last 30 years. From 1986 – 1998 she taught at Washington State University and from 1998 – 2013 she was a professor at Portland State University where she chaired the Department of Art and the MFA program.
“Polarities and Votives” is a mini retrospective that includes selected works from two series: “Polarities: Patterns in Time” (2016) and “Votives for Hanford” (what to do with nuclear waste?) (1996). In Polarities, Robillard explores visual and conceptual opposites by layering 19th century found imagery of the arctic and tropics, while combining photo printmaking, painting and drawing on panel and paper. In Votives, Robillard uses scientific diagrams and religious iconography to address the invisible and incomprehensible threat from the nuclear waste generated from Hanford throughout World War II and the Cold War.
"Robillard's process is multi-stepped and idiosyncratic... While printmaking lays the foundation for the work, Robillard manipulates her surfaces in various ways: by sanding and carving into the layers of pigment and by painting or drawing between and on top of layers of print. Further depth comes from her careful overlays of flat colors against metallic or iridescent hues... Robillard's additive process laminates image over image–sometimes as many as or even more than ten layers–to coalesce a visual sensation of another time and place while simultaneously establishing the images as relics of the present." —excerpt from an essay by Linda Tesner, director, Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Ore.