Carolyn Ryan


Because my intent is to create a charged viewing space, I work for initial impact, and carefully control the elements in my compositions. Then, I leave room for the viewer to explore and invest in the piece. My etchings and my fiber works present elements of expressionism and interpretive realism.

I create from a surreal viewpoint, with an added caveat: I have a rare brain anomaly identified as “synesthesia” - I experience sounds as color, texture and volume. Each day I live in an extra sensory dimension, and the attendant challenges of the clamoring stimulation, which finds its way into my palette and images.

Particular artists have formed my aesthetic including: Odilon Redon, the French Symbolist who explored dark areas of the spirit in his stark etchings and mystical paintings, and described his work as “ambiguous and undefinable”; Edvard Munch, also a painter and printmaker, who once said in response to a question about the birth of The Scream “ …the sun was setting, I felt a breath of melancholy.”; and Remedio Varo, a Surrealist of superlative skill who gave the viewer moments of wry humor along with powerful statements about alienation.

I find crossover inspiration from literary writers – a favorite novel is “The Master” by Colm Toibin. The book is an interpretive biography of Henry James, and I am drawn to James’s seething interior, and his constant longing for solitude.

My fiber artwork involves hand painting, monoprinting, stitching, layering and texturizing. The range of possible techniques with fiber art allows me great freedom in achieving my intent. These pieces hang either as tapestries, or stretched on artist canvas.

Most of my etchings are composed using a layering of my drawings and photos, then creating a transparency which is exposed to UV light over a treated metal plate: this process creates an etching ready for multiple inking and printing techniques.