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For UVic prof and Metallica fan, band's use of artwork brings 'cascading joy'

The University of Victoria visual arts professor contributed digital artwork to the new music video for the Metallica song 72 Seasons.


Where: SilverCity Victoria Cinemas, 3130 Tillicum Rd.
When: Thursday, April 13, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $16.95 from

The art of Victoria’s Kelly Richardson will be supersized tonight, thanks to a new project by one of the most popular rock bands in history.

The University of Victoria visual arts professor contributed digital artwork to the new music video for the Metallica song 72 Seasons, the title track to the band’s forthcoming 12th studio album. To mark the occasion, theatres worldwide are screening Metallica: 72 Seasons, a two-hour film created specifically to illustrate each song on the album.

Richardson already has her ticket for the Victoria screening, and she won’t be hard to spot. She has not stopped beaming throughout the process, and admits she’s “still struggling” to wrap her head around what transpired.

“This is personal for me, being a massive Metallica fan in my early 20s,” Richardson, 50, said. “My son is 14 and knows more Metallica songs than any other band, so I couldn’t wait to tell him. It had this cascading joy to it.”

The whole process was remarkably expeditious, especially for a band of this magnitude. Richardson was contacted just six weeks ago by the creative team at Los Angeles’s Setta Studio, whose proprietors requested to use digital images created by the Guelph, Ontario, native. Initially, she was told only that the project was a music video by a band that could not be named, due to confidentiality agreements.

Normally, she would have been suspicious. “No one wants their art to be misrepresented,” she said.

But after some sleuthing, Richardson had a hunch it was a project by the eight-time Grammy Award winners, whose self-titled 1991 album is the best-selling record in the United States since its release.

“I slowly kind of worked it out who it was.” Two days later, her art was being projected across screens flanking the band during the video shoot for 72 Seasons.

Producers leased three previously constructed pieces by Richardson for use in the video. Her work as a digital artist made sense as Setta Studio merges photography, motion and computer graphics, elements that are inherent to much of Richardson’s work.

Nonetheless, she was taken aback after seeing the finished product. “I do big video installations for galleries and museums, which is where you would typically find my work. This is certainly unusual for me.”

The project was a fit for Richardson on a philosophical level, too. 72 Seasons is a concept album based around the first 18 years of a person’s life, and the quartet of seasonal — read: emotional — changes that accompany each passing year. “Wrath of man” is a lyric that features prominently in the video for the title track, which features Richardson’s digital pieces, the starry Origin Stories and eclipse-like Halo.

“In my work, I’m dealing with pretty apocalyptic ideas. Origin Stories looks like a debris field, but the debris is all diamonds slowly turning and refracting light. It’s very mesmeric and beautiful, despite being about the extinction crisis.”

Richardson uses her art to kickstart larger conversations about the loss of complex life. “It took complex life four billion years to develop on this planet, and it’s staggering that we don’t give it second thought. We’re losing species every single day, particularly in B.C., where we continue to log primary forests.”

The film features interviews with Metallica, and Richardson has been told that the band will talk about the stories behind some of the songs and accompanying music videos. Setta Studios are big supporters of digital artists, so she wouldn’t be surprised if her artwork makes additional appearances throughout the film, Richardson said.

Her hope is that the project causes the public “to collectively stare at what is coming at us in the face.” Bands such as Metallica giving her work such a visible a platform is “gold” from a career standpoint, she added.

“The more they can blow this up the better, honestly. Some artists would be holding out for as much money as they could glean from this, but I’m really just interested in engaging as much of the public as I can. That means more to me than a cheque.”

There’s also the possibility Origin Stories and Halo could be used in concert when the band goes on tour later this year. “That would be epic,” Richardson said.

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