Rick Stoner has been an artist for almost his whole life. What started as a distraction tool used by his mother in church, turned into a 65 year passion. In high school, Stoner took up painting, a medium he continues to work with. Not just a painter or printmaker, Stoner is also an art educator who has taught at Colorado State University, the University of Denver and Front Range Community College. Now Stoner teaches private lessons from his studio in the Firehouse Art Center, where he has been an artist in residence for over 35 years. In June, the Firehouse will unveil his new exhibit “Patient Practice”, featuring works created by Stoner during his 2 year recovery from a near fatal illness.
“On July 7th 2021, I was literally taken down by the worst pain I have ever experienced. I was diagnosed with a bacterial infection in my spine, and advised that if I had not gotten to the emergency room, I would have died. This diagnosis led to two major back surgeries and a two month stay in the hospital & rehab facility, which I refer to as the asylum,” Stoner states, surrounded by works in progress in his studio.
The solo exhibit documents the traumatizing journey of the entire experience from the point of vulnerability to recovery, while also sharing the work Stoner created during recovery. Medical imagery will accompany works complementing each other visually and thematically. Also included in the exhibit are abstract sculptures that deviate from Stoner’s representational painterly style.
“I love Egyptian art and stripes, and through that I came up with these shapes and designs”, Stoner states. Hidden in the stripes is a reference to his broken spine, carved into the base are Doctor’s names and medical diagnoses, and the egyptian crook shape was influenced by the cane Stoner needed for months after the surgery. The zoomorphic qualities of the sculptures invite the viewers to discuss what it means to live in an imperfect body and to still be useful to society, as the sculptures incorporate tools for digging and creation, challenging how society views disability, and illness.
“I am on my way to recovery but while in the asylum, the thing that got me through, other than family, friends, nurses & doctors, was my capacity to create. Even when I was confined to the hospital bed I was still doodling, and soon as I was moved to a wheelchair, I began painting. It’s just something that I have to do to stay sane. It is my belief that we all possess this ability to create and I hope that this show will be an incentive for others to join in that creation.”
The exhibition opens on June 10 and runs until July 10th at the Firehouse Art Center, 667 4th Avenue, Longmont, CO.