Richard Myers: Aberrations
Organized by Laura Ziewitz, Curatorial Assistant
Northeast Ohio independent filmmaker Richard Myers combines dreams with personal experiences in works that explore memory and the subconscious. Nonlinear and surreal, Myers’s films are whirlwinds of texture, light, shadow, and sound. Aberrations features four locally shot films from 1961 to 1984 alongside ephemera drawn from Myers’s personal archives.
Working exclusively in 16mm film, Myers never presents straightforward narratives. The Path (1961) and First Time Here (1964), two of Myers’s earliest works, use the artist’s dreams as a starting point from which to freely jump among scenes and content, defying external logic and setting the tone for future, fast-paced montages. Deathstyles (1971), Myers’s first full-length color film, was made the same year as the Kent State University shootings. It loosely follows a young man as he drives aimlessly around a generic Midwestern landscape filled with sex, violence, and commercialism, questioning whether he is, in fact, living or dying. The deeply personal Jungle Girl (1984) is the filmmaker’s love letter to actress Frances Gifford, the forgotten star of an eponymous 1940s film serial with whom a young Myers was infatuated.
Using friends and family as his lead actors, Myers’s films are intensely private and rooted in his native environment and experiences. For all their idiosyncrasies, these works nonetheless tap into our collective subconscious, strange visions of our hopes, fears, and dreams.
Richard Myers (1937, Massillon, OH) is based in Munroe Falls, OH. Myers received an MA from Kent State University, OH in 1961 and a BFA from the same university in 1959; he taught filmmaking there from 1964 to 1991. Myers has received two Guggenheim Fellowship Awards and grants from the American Film Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts. His films have been widely exhibited, including presentations at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; the San Francisco Cinematheque; and the Cleveland Cinematheque. He has received first prize film festival awards at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Kenyon Film Festival, and the Chicago International Film Festival. In 2014, Myers was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award.