ANDREW REACH: WITHIN REACH
Who is Andrew Reach? (click here for resume)
At the heart of Andrew Reach there will always be an Architect. But his path took a strange and difficult turn and he was severed from his profession as an Architect just as construction began on his last building as Project Architect, for the Frost Art Museum in Miami. Little did he know at the time that his journey would lead to making art as his path to creative liberation.
Reach suffers from a disease of the spine known as Scheuermann’s Kyphosis, a form of scoliosis where the spine curves forward. Over the years his curvature worsened to the point that his internal organs were impacted and surgery was required. His first surgery in January 2003 involved a multi level spinal fusion assisted by rods and screws to correct the curvature. This fusion comprised more than two thirds of his spine. About a year and a half after the surgery he had a rare complication called Spondylolisthesis. As his surgeon explained it to him in lay terms, “Your head is falling off your spine.” He would require another complex surgery extending the rods and screws to structurally pull the spine back into alignment. This second surgery was performed in November 2004.
Feeling marooned while lying in a hospital bed and falling deeper into despair, Bruce Baumwoll, his partner of 28 years, encouraged him to try and create art on the computer during the limited time he could sit upright. He began teaching himself Photoshop so that he could have an outlet for his pent-up creativity. This was the beginning of an odyssey of self awareness and personal expression that continues in his work today.
Reach chose the digital medium out of necessity, because the act of painting would be too physical. Reach’s many interests inhabit the large format digital prints he and his partner Baumwoll collaboratively print at home. Utilizing the latest in digital printing technology, he creates large format archival prints, at sizes up to 90 inches long, in some instances consisting of biological references to his body in the form of abstracted vertebra forms, and further at the cellular level, as he imagines his connective tissue being the source of the debilitating pain he still suffers from.
Many of Reach’s interests including 20th century modern art, eastern traditions, Buddhist Mandalas, Sufi Whirling Dervishes, Islamic patterns and African art become transformed through the lens of his chosen digital medium. His imagination having traveled inwards also travels outwards in the unique worlds of Reach’s imagination. Many works include his carefree ‘Whimsies’: unencumbered beings free of the constraints of gravity. They represent an escape hatch, -- an alternative place for Reach to inhabit, free from his battles with his body. Behind all of this lies the biggest reward for Andrew Reach; to be able to inspire others and bring attention to the power of art not only to enrich our lives, but to heal them, as well.
Andrew Reach’s art has been exhibited in solo and international juried exhibitions in Miami; New York; Burlington, Vermont; San Francisco and Chicago.
--William Tregoning 2008
Andrew Reach on Art and Healing
The ability to do my art is my refuge and personal oasis. In this place anything is possible. My art on display here is a chronicle of my struggles; a diary in picture form.
“Whimsies” (illustrated, right) are inventions of my psyche that inhabit many of my works and are a personification of me that I use to tell stories. Whimsies represent complete freedom. They are unencumbered by gravity and are free to go anywhere they desire and they come out to play in my imagination.
The work Boxed-in Boogie Woogie (above) is an example. Sometimes I feel frustrated because I had a hard day and had to spend most of it having to lie in bed. Embarking on Boxed-in Boogie Woogie was a way of confronting just such emotions. As I worked through its creation, consisting of a grid of colored squares with whimsies tangled in its rigid order, I was able to turn these emotions of frustration on its head by transforming it into a celebration of color and form.
Another example is the work Industry Whimsy (above). When I made it in 2007 I was still going through emotional issues of leaving Architecture, and in particular, of not being able to complete the Frost Museum design and its construction at Florida International University (FIU). Delving into my imagination, I made up a story of an industrious whimsy surveying an abandoned gas station; a relic of a bygone time. The whimsy will bring about a rebirth of this relic, like my art bringing about a rebirth of my industriousness from Architecture to Digital Art. The process from inception to completion has been powerfully cathartic for me.
I’m grateful and humbled to be able to share my art to help advance the healing arts.