GenetikosGenetikos, 2016, oil and DNA (human semen) on linen, 213.4cm x 426.8cm Out SeriesOut Series: Before the knowing (green, blue, brown); Into the knowing; Happy at last, 2016, oil on linen, each 76.2cm x 101.6cm Freedom FlagFreedom Flag, 2015, buffalo hide, dye, 200cm x 136.5cm x 6.5cm (plus variable fur thickness), The BMO 1stArt Award (BC) 2015
Viewed by more than 10,000 visitors in six exhibitions across Canada traveling more than 18,000 km
My Spirits SoarMy Spirits Soar, 2015, Hudson’s Bay history book, King James bible, John Fluevog Rigas boots, mannequin legs, lacquer, Finn chair, unopened Big Rock beer can, Lego bricks, foam shapes, Band-Aids, spray paint, children’s wooden stacking toy, mahogany valet stand, braided roping, CNC routered yellow cedar, light bulb, toggle switch, 195cm x 45.5cm x 45cm ManifestoManifesto, 2014, gym Locker, paint, combination lock, digital print, 183cm x 38cm x 46cm
Panoptican State, laminated glass, bullets shot from a Russian SKS semi-automatic rifle, paint, 70cm x 100cm
Nasty HabitNasty Habit, 2013, soil, textiles, plywood, military boots, 'lampshade' Macintosh computer, picture frame, variable dimensions Pyotr's FollyUntitled (Pyotr’s folly), 2014, laminated veneer, tree segments, aircraft cable, found hardwood parquetry, variable dimensions TotemTotem, 2013, found office objects, variable dimensions God Keep Our Land...God keep our land..., 2013, PVC pipe, tree segment, hardware, tempura paint, soil, variable dimensions
Trading Routes: Rivers, Fish and Oil at the Cannery Museum, Steveston, BC from April 2015 to March 2016
Clear CutClear Cut, 2013, video projection, audio, log slices, raw wood segments, forest debris, variable dimensions.

BC Arts Council Early Career Development Grant 2015
BMO 1stArt Award 2015 (BC)
IDEA Award 2014

He is a half-breed. He is gay. His Indigenous heritage was redacted from his birth documents. He was adopted at two months. He was raised a Mennonite. He was bullied for four years at a private school. He was married to a woman. He has four grown children. He came out in November 2014. Over the last two years, Richard has explored the notion of ‘coming out’ within the contexts of: a strict religious upbringing; discovering his identity to be the ‘Other’ at the age of thirty-two; and the ensuing deeply personal emotional conflict within the framework of his learned convictions.

The emerging question is: “Who is Richard?”

And so begins the conversation...

Inspired by artists Jimmie Durham, Kent Monkman and Robert Delaunay, he builds upon notions of identity, race, religion, spirituality, and social/cultural ideologies juxtaposed with his perceived individuality and internalized homophobia. His art practice also investigates theories of the historical significance of colour along with the implications of symbolic form (colour and shape) on the political landscape in an Indigenous/colonial context. Heikkilä-Sawan’s work utilizes rich, colourful, child-like sensibilities – often incorporating LGBTQ pride colours – as an entry point into the deeper themes that are revealed in shape and meaning.

Commenting on his work, Richard states, “My palette is often rich and vibrant. Breaking down an image into geometric shapes of both positive and negative spaces often implementing Gestalt principles, I utilize the science of physiological optics where colour engages an interaction—the colour of one geometric shape impressing upon and affecting the colour of its neighbour. With this dynamic infused into culturally current themes, it is my hope that the viewer will walk away from my work with new insight and perhaps changed.”