Conor Backman

BFA Sculpture + BFA Painting, 2011

Conor Backman, BFA 2011, was co-owner/founder/director of Reference (Richmond, VA) from 2009-2012. He currently lives and works in Hudson, NY, where he was director of Retrospective from 2013-2015. Backman has had recent solo exhibitions at James Fuentes LLC, New York, NY; Annarumma, Naples, Italy, and Mixed Greens, New York, NY. His work has been included in group exhibitions at David Zwirner, New York, NY; Smart Objects, Los Angeles, CA; Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA; Higher Pictures, New York, NY; and Saamlung, Hong Kong.

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What have you been up to since graduating from VCU?

I’m currently living in Hudson, NY, about two hours north of NYC. I moved here two years ago to work as a gallery director after living in NYC for two years. I recently left my job at the gallery to focus on my studio practice full time.

What advice would you give a current VCU Sculpture student?

Richmond has a great community, but it’s relatively small. My advice is to reach out to art students in other cities. Meeting in person is always best, but now it’s easier than ever to talk to people anywhere in the world. It will bring new perspective to your work, and will also set you up for your life after school. My closest friends are people I met at VCU, and they all left Richmond after school. The ones who had kept in touch with people in other places had a much easier time moving forward.

How did VCU prepare you for your current situation?

Apart from giving me the tools to speak and think about contemporary art, VCU connected me with an amazing community of artists. Two of them currently live in the same town as I do, and we are still collaborating years after school.

Why did you decide to study sculpture?

I went to VCU thinking I would major in painting. After my first year I realized sculpture was the most exciting, forward-thinking, open, and competitive department in the school, so I made the switch.