Ryan Sarah Murphy Finds Stable Ground in Untethered Places
You can either add or subtract. Become a knife-wielding Emily Dickinson or a freewheeling hyphenator like Walt Whitman.
Mixed-media artist Ryan Sarah Murphy does both. Using a combination of found cardboard, hardback book covers, and foamcore to create her sculptural reliefs, the New York City-based artist cuts, coats, and scrapes her way into stable space, whether under her feet or in her mind.
“The resultant forms are grounded in architecture, landscape, aerial topographies, and abstract geometry,” Ryan says of her wall hangings. “I am interested in the psychological underpinnings within spatial forms and the built environment, and how the configuration of architectural elements can be shaped to personify one’s inner experience.” With a bird’s eye view, Ryan assembles her works into wonky, gerrymandered shapes that defy conventional perspectives.
Working intuitively, Ryan is drawn to the bright colors and bold shapes found in consumer packaging. Her process dictates she work within the strict parameters of the material: “I began to develop this body of work by instituting one specific parameter: to never paint the given color of the material,” she says. “I instead use the found color as a visual guideline in constructing a particular form. I cut away any text, graphics, logos or branding from the cardboard packaging and use the remaining color fragments as the building blocks for each new piece.”
Ironically, by setting constraints, Ryan acknowledges “the potential forms are limitless.” Her craft-like impulse to build, structure, and order the ephemera of life highlights the human need for a secure sense of self. She notes: “There is a seemingly incessant drive to find grounding and placement in a widely untethered space, be it the concrete terrain beneath our feet or the visceral dwellings of the interior self.”
“There is a seemingly incessant drive to find grounding and placement in a widely untethered space.” — Ryan Sarah Murphy
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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