Scarlett Ren Richartz

Artist Statement:

My name is Scarlett Ren Richartz, I am 16 years old and I attend the High School of Art and Design for Photography. I had my first camera at a very young age and I’ve always loved capturing special moments and memories. I think it is amazing to just be able to look back and reflect on parts of your life or images of others captured in time. For this project, I wanted to capture a viewpoint that most people don’t experience or see when they visit New York City. I feel that when people from around the world come to New York, they only go to the places they’ve heard about or other people have told them about and that they don’t really see the true and more realistic sides of the city.  I want my photographs to reveal a different perspective that may be hidden from the pedestrian eye, and to be able to bring them to light. I see myself as a very observant person and I like to find the small details that many people might not see and enlarge them so that maybe it will inspire people to look more closely when walking around. Some people may think that my photographs are too underexposed, or too dark, but it’s what I like in my art. I intently choose to make them like this because it matches my photographic style and subject matter. It shows a deeper meaning and perspective to my artwork, and also how people may feel about it. As a part of my interest in film photography, I have begun to learn how to develop and enlarge my film, and these pieces of art are my first attempt and result of this skill on my own. Many of my pieces capture the living conditions of disadvantaged individuals in NYC. In an effort to help them and others, any piece that is purchased, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Coalition for the Homeless. With the donations, it can help provide stability for those less fortunate and to help them and their families. I hope that my art encourages others to take the time to look with a more observant eye so that they can also bring that perspective to this city or their own.  

Curator Statement:

The photographs of the young artist Scarlett Ren Richartz, who studies at the High School of Art and Design, follows the rich tradition of the artist-photographer as an observer. As Walker Evans she points out the details of the urban landscape often lost to the passerby but in her focus on urban lettering she does not focus on the graphic advertising lettering of the new consumerism of Evans’ time but on smaller details of signs with a certain humor created by tears, layering and other human actions in the fight for eyeballs on the urban public surfaces. Scarlett’s use of analogue photography and hand printing is a further link to the tradition of the chroniclers of urban life, in our time of hyper-glossy and saturated pictures on screens the visual and visceral quality of a hand-made silver gelatin print is not necessarily a nod to the past or old fashioned but a process of magic that gives the machine(camera) made image a humane touch free of machinery by the process of creating a print with all the steps involved.

Ms. Richartz uses her black & white photographs not so much to document her surroundings but to give us a kind of urban texture that suggests as much as it describes. The inky blacks of her shadows draw you in, and seem to hint to an urban underbelly where all is not as billboards and phone screens try to convey.

Her images of people and performers in the city are always taken at a respectful distance and rather than being showy or exaggerating a performance they take a more psychological, expressionistic approach.

As the poet Hart Crane states in his poem “The Bridge: To Brooklyn Bridge” , “….Only in darkness is thy shadow clear….”

-Martin Ogolter, Artist & Photographer