Quote from the essay Talking Trees: Sharon Ryan’s Biology of the Imagination by Michael Duncan Corresponding Editor, Art in America
All the works rely on a delicate balance between found patterns and gestural embellishments. With their sensual, modulated lines inspired by Japanese erotic art, Ryan’s paintings offer a kind of free-form decoration, playfully embossing the organic forms the human eye seeks out in nature. With the metamorphic magic of a fairy tale, Ryan’s trees divulge realms of melting flowers, spermlike serpents, tattooed trunks, and blossoming bosoms. Like the cranky, talking oaks in “The wizard of Oz”, they are only comically menacing. These unlikely creatures emerge from the narrow, murky depths to scare us, but we know they can’t follow; they are rooted and immobile, stuck in their places as paintings on the wall.
In this resent body of work Ryan continues her exploration of sensual forms inherent in nature. She has chosen the subject of leafless, pruned back and barren trees which she has painted in silhouette on a variety of wood veneers and papers.
For Ryan, these pieces symbolically express life in death and death in life.
The stripped down trees, hacked away by the hand of man or by nature’s destructive forces, may seem dead and grotesque, but are actually quite full of life, energy, beauty and sensuality.
The images of the trees in negative can be viewed simultaneously as abstract and representational forms. They also represent Ryan’s personal desire for the natural world to be protected, as it continues to inspire a spiritual longing beyond mere physical existence.
The collage-like installations suggest a primary and alternate view of the same Rorschach forms that exist naturally in my subjects.