Richard Duarte Brown, born in Atlantic City New Jersey in 1957, was known as shy little Ricky by his family. He was told he should never be an artist by his mother and oldest brother. They reasoned he could never make money at being an artist and everything in the art world had already been done. He understood their words were for protection. As Duarte puts it, by age nine, his "Artist Spirit" felt homeless. But he heard a still small voice saying you are an artist, and he saw he saw art as holding the potential to uplift and elevate man's existence.
Duarte began drawing at age six, creating art from found objects such as rice, glue, shoe polish and cardboard, and he continues to work primarily in mixed media. His works have been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States and locally at the Frank Hale Cultural Center at The Ohio State University and the William H. Thomas Gallery. He is a participating artist in Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States, a traveling public art exhibition supported by the Ford Foundation. Duarte has dedicated his talents to helping young people through countless programs including CAPACITY, the Short Stop Youth Center, the King Arts Complex, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ebony Boys, Art Safe, and Very Special Arts Ohio. Duarte has also worked as a high school art instructor at the Arts and College Preparatory Academy in Columbus.
Recent Feedback From Schools
This was an amazing experience for the students. I had no plan for Duarte when he came in, I just wanted him to do what he does. In that, he shared his story, thoughts, ideas, ways he overcomes artistic blocks/issues, meaning, and purpose for creating. As a result, I think the students walked away with more than I could have imagined.
Duarte was able to bring experiences and stories that connected with many of our students. I wanted to bring in someone that I knew the kids would love, that has defied many obstacles in his time, is free-spirited, and a great example of someone working in a field they love. I can't even begin to explain how excited the students were about his visit and were asking when he was going to come back. I brought Duarte's name up the other day and they instantly asked about him visiting again. Not only were the students impressed with Duarte, the principal and guidance counselor expressed their gratitude for him coming and the great experience this was for the students to be a part of.
We had Duarte in our classroom earlier in the summer to do a silk-screening workshop with our students. We were very impressed with his work with his art as well as with the students and had him back later in the summer to help us with a mural. We did not have a specific plan for the mural, but rather wanted to see where the students' creativity would take them. The students embraced the experience and made a wonderful mural using found materials as well as painting techniques Duarte shared with them. The most valuable part of the program was the encouragement of the students to explore their own creativity and ideas rather than portray a subject given to them by an adult. The students absolutely adored Duarte and want him to come back to do more art with them.
Duarte came to do a silkscreen workshop with us. He burned four original drawings of my students onto screens before he arrived so that they could print their own work. The children had to vote on designs as we could not do a screen for each. They voted before his arrival, and accepted the results of the democratic process gracefully. This was a new experience for them in every way.
The generous spirit Duarte expressed allowed them to learn something new while being treated as capable and competent to try, to succeed. Everyone participated. Parents hung out longer at drop off to watch, and were equally interested in Duarte and the process. We are so pleased with the experience.
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Video courtesy of WOSU TV's Artzine.
This artist is based in Columbus. Travel charges may apply for schools outside of the area.
The Ohio Alliance for Arts Education is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, 77 S. High Street, 2nd Fl., Columbus, OH 43215-6108 tel: 614.224.1060 email:
All Riffe Center visitors must provide photo ID. Backpacks are not permitted in the building.