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Celebrating the life of Christopher Lee Risher
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Obituary for Christopher Lee Risher
Christopher Risher Jr was a creator. Might seem like too vague a term to describe him, but it might be the most accurate one to use. He was driven with an eternally hungry mind, eager to bring ideas to life, to make the world a greater more beautiful place than he found it.
Most knew Risher as an architect, saw his love for structure and form, but came to understand more his overwhelming belief in the power of space to shape the building rather than the building to shape the space. When leading studios, he worked hard to share whatever insights he had and helped the people around him rise above themselves. He built. He tought.
He was my father.
Some knew Risher as a painter, rapturously in love with color and the stroke of the brush. His mastery of the abstract was nearly absolute. The achievement of true abstraction became an obsession for him which eventually gave way to truly original formless forms. As he said, "I'm onto something!" Risher spent most of his hours since retirement in the studio, paint on his hands. He died with heavy body acrylic on his hands.
Words tickled him - he found joy in sharing his passion for language with everyone he knew. It was a passion for reading and for writing. He wrote more letters than anyone I've ever met. When I arrived at his house to begin to settle his affairs the week after he passed, I found his stationary stash fresh and ready in the drawer at his kitchen work table. He wrote letters in the same place that he rolled dough.
He was a boy scout - no allegory - it's literal. He liked to recount stories to me about his visit to the boy scout jamboree, or while we were stuck in a lightning storm on a rocky shore of the Buffalo River, how he and his troop forded miles of unpassable terrain carrying their canoes over their heads.
And the man could roll dough. He could stew pork. He could bake casseroles. He could whip up the most delicious squash and brie omelet you've ever had. He mastered his mother's favorite recipes - I tasted them. They tasted like she made them.
Christopher was also a serious man with a mischevous sense of humor. Some might think of mischief as unruly or gouche - and some of his humor might fall outside what's appropriate for all audiences, but much of it was michevous because it forced us to think more than we might wish. We were better for it.
I still remember that day in the park when the photo above was taken - a moment that became indelibly imprinted among my memories of a fleeting childhood.
Christopher cherished that memory as well, I always knew because he enlarged and reprinted this photo and hung it on his wall for most of the 20 years since it was taken.
Though there are countless more memories that fill my mind about him, and more words I could use to describe him, their sum total only encapsulates a portion of the experiences that he provided for all the other people that knew him.
If you have stories about Christopher Risher, Jr, I invite you to come to this event and share them.
I'll do the same.
Conversations with Risher for Vaughan
Mississippi Museum of Art Community Room Saturday May 27th, 2017 3pm-6pm