Catherine Ryan is an Oakland-based artist whose work is graphically sharp while imbuing a lot of quiet observations about human behavior and habits. I asked Catherine a few questions below about her practice and the work in the show, but Bay Area blog In The Make also did a fantastic feature on Catherine a few weeks ago that I recommend checking out.
The artist at home via In The Make
Where are you from and were do you live currently?
I grew up in New Jersey and now live in Oakland, CA.
The figures in your work are mere shadows and outlines. Why is that?
I want the figures in my work to retain a sense of anonymity. I want their roles, and positioning, in the paintings to be what is important, not specific features or personal qualities.
The Pact, $400.
There's a strong tension in much of your work between people and animals. Is there a deeper meaning behind this?
I'm very interested in tension and the relationships that exist between opposing forces. The animals in my work are used to represent the natural world in opposition to the more structured aspects of the world that most Americans inhabit.
The artist's studio via In The Make
We see a lot of multiples and repetition in your work. What's that about?
I'm primarily investigating human behavior in the face of the unknown (mob mentality, rituals, religious ceremonies etc.) which leads me to revisit certain gestures and positions over and over again.
Do you aim to teach lessons or serve warnings through your work?
I don't think I really aim to teach or warn the audience through my work. Mostly I'm trying to work out things that I'm curious about.
What are some things (not necessarily art-related) that are inspiring to you?
I'm most influenced by books and movies.
A stack of the artist's books via In The Make