How do you identify, Dorrie?
Well, I didn’t know I had hidden talent from my mom. I found out I have art from her. I didn’t know until I came to NIAD. Then I started thinking about bringing up my history and putting my hidden talents together. I put yourself into my work. I put myself as a cat into a ceramic sculpture. I’ve been bringing out a little bit of my own history into the art.
I would say I’m an artist because I do every little thing. I can’t say just one thing. Just leave it at artist because I do so many things.
What do you like about working with cloth or fiber?
I’m putting a statement on a quilt saying “This is me.” I try to put myself into the quilt. I think if it’s leather it’s hard, but with cloth it’s easier. Sometimes I can create with cotton but it doesn’t matter, I can work with anything. You just throw a material at me and I can create. It’s very challenging to come up with what I can come up with. With the fabrics it’s giving me challenges like how to pick the colors. I like to accomplish my challenges in art.
Well, I think with ceramics I’m just thinking about my animal situation and I try to bring it together with Black history. In ceramics I’m creating my own Black history with objects and creations. I kept on thinking of President’s Day for Abraham Lincoln.
Why did you make Abraham Lincoln? Why him?
I started putting the words as like a play on words. I like to reimagine Abraham Lincoln and make my own words on them. On Martin Luther King, Jr. I put down “I have a meow,” instead of “I have a dream.” I put myself down as the cat. I like to reinterpret figures from history. In March it’s Women’s History Month and I’m putting it in the cats.
Why are cats so important in your work?
In my childhood I was raised with a lot of animals and I had kittens all over the place. When I went to my grandmother’s place we had kittens in her yard.
When I try to talk to people it’s harder. I think of my cats as my children. It’s easier with animals than people. I think of my cats as my therapy. They’re calm, cool and let me know when to get up. I can relate to animals and I feel like I need to advocate for animal rights. My work later moved on to horses.
What about the idea of utopia in your work? Or like a future paradise?
Well, one of the reasons I’m looking for a place like that is because is in my childhood I went through a lot of anger and hostility. It seems like to me that there’s no place to get away from the violence and anger. If I can find a peaceful place to do my art I can feel calm and safe.
It’s interesting to me because it’s almost like through your art work you’re manifesting this safe place you’re looking for.
Yeah, yeah, if I can go to the NIAD garden I feel a lot more calm.
How does being from the Bay Area influence your work, do you think?
Yeah, my father had a family owned business called Reid Records in Berkeley. I was just telling Bobby [Dorrie Reid’s brother] we should start a new family business, maybe like with horse back riding and art sales. Reid Records was special to me because I used to hang around with my dad there and I learned about Motown.
Yeah and when you lose a business you’re not only losing a business, you’re losing this community space.
Yeah, it was special to me.
What about your mother’s history of social activism? Has that been informative in your work?
Well, to me when she was doing Rosie the Riveter and she told me about the history. Then she met my stepfather who was a professor at Berkeley. I was raised up in Tilden park. To me Berkeley was my birthplace. I’ve always been a California girl.
I’m curious about how all of this family history and background influenced your art work?
Well, what happened was I did the Black Panther quilt. Joan, my aunt, was one of the first women in the Black Panthers and I’ve been thinking about my ancestors. Denis, my uncle, was also involved in the Black Panthers. I did the “All the power to the people” quilt. The politics have been handed down to me. It’s from generation to generation.
Going back to materials here. What do you like about painting?
I think when I painted the flower I was thinking about “Where have all of the flowers have gone?” I think animals are related to our ancestors. When you look at wild cats, they all hunt.
What’s special about working with paint?
The thing about paint is you just do your own thing. I started to think about Romeo [Dorrie Reid’s cat] because he was my winter baby, he was born on Christmas day. Paint is fine as long as it doesn’t run or drip. My mom used to paint and use oil paints. I do paints because it reminds me of her.
What’s next for you, Dorrie?
My long term goal is trying to get a studio to work on my crocheting and my art and have horses. Since I lost my family-owned business, I’m trying to make plans for going into the horse business and having my own art studio. This is my long term goal for when I retire, to go somewhere peaceful.
// Dorrie’s available work //
Hurricane Dorian, curated by Dorian Reid // NIAD Online Exhibition // June 2022
And Then Some… // NIAD Annex Exhibition // May 2022
DreamForms, curated by Lauren Ari and Julio Del Rio // NIAD Online Exhibition // March 2022
Auctionauts // NIAD Online Exhibition // March 2022
Day or Night it Looks Like Night, curated by Liliana Herrera // NIAD Online Exhibition // February 2022
A Year Through the Windows // A Retrospective of NIAD’s 2021 Windows Exhibitions // December 2021 (online exhibition)
Future History: The Katz Legacy // Christie’s Auction House, San Francisco // December 2021
Dorrie Reid // Kapp Kapp, Philadelphia // 2020
Hailing From Parts Unknown, organized By Curtis Turner // NIAD Art Center // 2019
CE x CG X NIAD // Minnesota Street Projects, San Francisco // 2019
Books, Man, organized by Mike Monteiro // NIAD Art Center // 2019
¡Trio! // Roll Up Project, Oakland // 2018
Guerneville, organized By Gerasimos Floratos and Ross Simonini // NIAD Art Center // 2018
Prints: An Overview // NIAD Art Center // 2018
Give A Little Take A Little: Real Time & Space at NIAD, organized By Lexa Walsh // NIAD Art Center // 2018
Cyrano // organized By Em Kettner // NIAD Art Center // 2018
Indeterminate Space, organized by Anthony Piñata // NIAD Art Center // 2018
All Of The Light, organized by Gina Borg // NIAD Art Center // 2017
Thread Heads // Berkeley Art Center // 2017
The Witnesses, organized by Cliff Hengst and Scott Hewicker // NIAD Art Center // 2017
The Language of Line, organized by Susan Alexander NIAD Art Center // 2017
Hanging On a Thread: Fiber Art From NIAD Art Center // Contra Costa County McBrien Administrative Building Martinez // 2017
Flying Like A Rock // Public Annex Portland Oregon // 2017
Long Term Exhibition, organized by Katie Johnson // Rep. Nancy Skinner’s Office Suite, Oakland // 2017
Handbills // NIAD Art Center // 2017
Word Play, organized by Kate Klingbeil NIAD Art Center // 2017
Igneous Intrusions, organized by Jon Shibata // NIAD Art Center // 2017
Mayor Tom Butt Selects The Art Of NIAD // Richmond Mayor’s Suite, Richmond // 2017
Creature Feature, organized by John Casey // NIAD Art Center // 2017
Souls And Scenarios, organized by Gina Borg // NIAD Art Center // 2016
The Table Show // NIAD Art Center 2016
Party Animals!, organized by Katie Johnson // NIAD Art Center // 2016
Mayor Tom Butt Selects The Art Of NIAD // Richmond Mayor’s Suite, Richmond // 2016
Disability Awareness Month // Fenwick & West San Francisco, Menlo Park and Seattle // 2015
Peacable Kingdom: The Creatures of Dorrie Reid // NIAD Art Center // 2015
Making Friends, organized by John Casey // NIAD Art Center // 2015
City In Motion // NIAD Art Center // 2014
Ebony + Ivory, organized by Katie Johnson // NIAD Art Center // 2014
Diamond Dogs Pet Supply // NIAD Art Center // 2014
Disparate Minds: Dorrie Reid (December 2019)