Catherine Ryan was born and raised in New Jersey.
She moved to the Bay Area in 1996 and received her Bachelor of Fine
Arts from the California College of the Arts in May 2000. Ryan began
exhibiting her work at HANG in the summer of 2001.
Ryan's work investigates the significant role family photographs
play in our lives and memories. Working in a photo lab while in
college, Ryan observed that the same images showed up in scores
of rolls of film; each family seemed drawn to documenting situations
in similar ways. Ryan began to see these photographs as templates
affecting the way we remember people, places, and even ourselves.
In their complete subjectivity, photographs exist somewhere between
the personal and the anonymous, the candid and the contrived. Ryan
uses these loaded elements to display the fundamental nature of
human emotion. The figures in Ryan's paintings assume familiar poses
and gestures, and though carefully drawn, are not recognizable by
facial features or expressions but rather by their surrounding environment.
To heighten the tension between familiarity and obscurity, the backgrounds
of Ryan's pieces are built up, torn away and densely layered in
contrast to the unclothed portions of the figures being rendered
primarily in charcoal. The resulting images retain an essence of
anonymity that allows the viewer to imbue into any particular piece,
his or her own memories and sentiments and to remind us of how affected
we all are by the snapshot.
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