Liza Ryan: SPILL

Image Gallery

January 29 - March 8, 2009

The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery is proud to present SPILL, an immersive environment of film and photography by Los Angeles artist Liza Ryan. SPILL is Ryan’s most recent body of work, continuing the artist’s investigations into physical and psychological experiences of release and dispersal—whether from the body as shell, society, or the laws of gravity. Ryan is obsessed with the nature of unfettered movement and spaces of the “imagined” and the “impossible” as portals for unbinding oneself from the claustrophobic dimensions of reality.

Friday, February 20 at 6:30 pm, Artist Talk in Eliot Hall, Room 314
Please join us for a talk on Liza Ryan's multimedia installation. Free and open to the public.

On view Tuesday, January 29—Saturday, March 8
The Cooley Gallery is open every week, Tuesday through Sunday, from 12:00—6:00 pm. Free and open to the public.

Ryan photographs in nature, creating archives of organic forms and landscapes that she uses as the prima materia for carefully assembled serial photographs exploring the mystery, velocity, and expansiveness of the animistic and magical forces at play in the world. SPILL includes a 30 ft. photographic assemblage, an alchemistic “film” sequence that bends through the corner of the Cooley Gallery like an open book or a Classical frieze. Ryan treats printed photographs as the catalysts for other material events: drawing and, in this new work, spilling and maneuvering inks across the surfaces of her prints. For Ryan, these actions create a circulatory and dynamic relationship with the body of the artist and the viewer. They are feminized, literary markings—representing the shedding of blood, the drainage of water, or the dissemination of life through fluid and seed.

Birds are a recurrent metaphor for Ryan, and in this recent work, hawks and falcons appear: representing grace, ruthlessness, autonomy, and power. Ryan, always meticulous in her project research, spent hours working with falconer sand filming and photographing their activities. The artist was inspired by J.A. Baker’s 1967 masterpiece of nature writing, The Peregrine. Baker’s exquisitely written observations about the lives of falcons in his native East Anglia gave Ryan new perspectives on survival, migration, and detailed rituals of place.

Ryan has also taken her interest in unrestricted movement to unusual places, studying and using “invisibility technology” developed by Japanese scientists in order to conduct her own invisibility experiments exploring the possibilities of hiding, and of creating “ultimate space”—fused and unbounded. The exhibition includes photographs of these experiments. Ryan’s work, in all of its forms, illuminates the significance of our relationship to place, both as a metaphor for the power of the imagination, and the emergence of the self.