Artist Talk: Rita Koehler

Artist Talk: Rita Koehler

Visual Artists Network (VAN) Artist-in-Residence at 516 ARTS

Rita Koehler is a guest artist-in-residence for PhotoSummer as part of 516 ARTS' partnership with the national NPN/Visual Artists Network. The public is invited to her artist talk about her two latest bodies of work, Rite of Ordinary: Interior Indiana featured in Fraction Magazine, and her new work in progress, Xenia, focusing on women religious in the Catholic Church and their role in transforming the hierarchical Church. While in residence at 516 ARTS, Koehler will be working on a diptych of opposing sides that is part of this new series. She asks, "Whom does representation address and whom does it exclude? What is a portrait? And how can I keep from being restricted in my understanding of my subjects?" A selection of her portraits from Xenia are featured in Fraction of a Second at 516 ARTS.


Rita Koehler completed her MFA at Lesley University College of Art and Design, Boston. Her work is multi-disciplinary addressing the world of mass media and political hegemony through the psychological and theological worlds of inquiry. Koehler situates herself as artist in the debate of what constitutes an intelligible life – one that is speakable, has meaning, and is valued – by focusing on an ethics of non-violent representation.

Koehler has trained under prominent photographers such as Lauren Greenfield, creator of Girl Culture and Like a Girl; Patty Carroll, Anonymous Women: Draped; and Brian Ulrich, Copia. Her work has been exhibited in Boston, MA; Orange County, CA; Long Island, NY; Fort Collins, CO; Indianapolis, Bloomington, and South Bend, IN as well as featured in Fraction Magazine and Focal Point. The body of work Rite of Ordinary: Interior Indiana is in the permanent collection of the Kinsey Institute Gallery, The Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, IN.

Prior to arriving in Albuquerque for the VAN artist-in-resident program at 516 ARTS, Koehler is in residency at The Center Program, Chicago working on a documentary focused on vowed religious women in the Roman Catholic Church, how they faithfully carried out the reforms of Vatican II, and their role in transforming the hierarchical church. She makes her home with her spouse in South Bend, Indiana.

Special thanks to Bella Roma Bed & Breakfast and UNM Interdisciplinary Film & Digital Media (IFDM)

516 ARTS is a VAN Partner of the Visual Artists Network (VAN). This project is made possible in part through support from the Visual Artists Network Exhibition Residency, which is a program of the National Performance Network. Major contributors are the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Lambent Foundation - a project of the Tides Center, the Nathan Cummings Foundation and Southwest Airlines. For more information:

Images: Rita Koehler • Untitled (Kitchen Curtains with Fruit) from Right of Ordinary: Interior Indiana, 2011, archival inkjet print • Women Build from Xenia, 2015, archival inkjet print