Richard C. Elliott

(American, born 1945, died 2008)

Late artist Richard C. "Dick" Elliott (1945-2008) is known for his large-scale, sculptural installations created with industrial highway reflectors. His art uses light, color, and radiant geometric patterns to explore the variations of light and dynamic interactions between colors. He called it "painting with light" and described how "I was driving the county highways and noticing that these little specks of light would come up out of nowhere, they would get really intense, and then disappear. I thought, wow, what a delightful object! And I discovered that they were reflectors." Most of Dick Elliott's work and life was based in Ellensburg, Central Washington, and he was an important contributor to its visual arts community.

Born in Portland, Oregon, Dick Elliott earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art and economics from Central Washington University in Ellensburg in 1971. He joined the AmeriCorps VISTA program and served in an Alaska Native community in Pilot Station, Alaska (1966-67), and with the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay, Washington (1968-69) -- these years were very important to him. In the 1980s, he began to explore primary colors and light-active materials. By 1987, he decided to focus on the safety reflector as his medium of choice. During the 1990s and 2000s, Elliott received over twenty public art commissions, including at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, Oregon, and in Times Square, New York City. During the last year of his life while he was physically limited by pancreatic cancer, he created computer-generated prints using thousands of colors and geometric designs. In 2007, Elliott was honored with a Washington State Governor's Arts and Heritage Award and the national "Recognition for Innovation in Public Art" award from Americans for the Arts.