Artist of the Week: Conor Backman

Conor Backman lives and works in Richmond, Virginia.  He is currently studying at Virginia Commonwealth University and is co-owner of Reference, an art gallery in downtown Richmond.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I am currently working on my BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in the departments of Sculpture and Painting.  I run Reference Gallery in downtown Richmond along with Edward Shenk, James Shaeffer, and Ross Iannatti.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I was recently in a group show titled “Tuesday” curated by Amani Olu at Mixed Greens gallery.  Reference Gallery had its first show as a collective this January as part of an exchange project with Nudashank in Baltimore.  That show traveled to the University of Georgia and hopefully will keep evolving and traveling to a few more spaces in the next few months.  We’ve currently got Nudashank’s show up at our space, which Alex Ebstein curated, featuring work by Seth Adelsberger, Michael Hunter, Noam Rappaport, and Bettina Yung.  Reference recently participated in the ‘Dependent Fair‘ at a hotel room in the Chelsea Sheraton during Armory week.  I’ve been really excited about using outside curatorial opportunities as chances for collaborative/collective projects.


What are your thoughts about the art scene in Richmond? Richmond is a small city with cheap rent and lots of space, and there is a strong community at the school.  There is a lot of potential in Richmond, and I think there’s a lot more that could be happening here.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? Lately I’ve found it easiest to send people to my website.

What do you do when you’re not working on art? I’m working part time as a security guard at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  It gives me plenty of time to think about my work when I’m not making it.  I’m actually writing this response right now at work.  A docent is currently doing a terrible job explaining a painting by Picasso, one of the “most famous of the French impressionists.”

Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? According to the ‘Most Visited’ tab on my Firefox browser, my top three websites are Gmail, Google, and Gmail.  That may be just for today, since I’ve last cleared my history, or because of my compulsive email checking.

What are you really excited about right now? I just watched a movie last night called “Catfish” that I am very excited about.  I can’t say much more about it without giving the whole thing away.

Favorite music? The Notorious B.I.G.

What are your plans for the next year? I’ll be sticking around Richmond for a while until I graduate in December.  Not sure what’s after that, taking it one month at a time.  I’d like to be in New York eventually.  I’ve been talking about moving to Berlin for a while, we’ll see…

Any upcoming shows we should know about? No shows of my own work on the horizon.  I’ve got a lot of new work that I’m ready to show though.