Receiving her Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics and Sculpture in May 2018, Courtney Ryan is known for her intricate clay sculptures that appear to have emerged organically from their surroundings. She currently resides in Statesboro, Georgia, near Savannah, where she teaches Two-Dimensional and Three-Dimensional design courses as an Instructor of Record at Georgia Southern University. Upon graduation, Courtney intends to continue her studio practice while exhibiting work as she searches for her future career. As an aspiring professor of art, she wants to continue teaching and remain involved within the art world both professionally and academically.
Over the course of her graduate career, Courtney has had the opportunity to travel abroad to experience the Venice Biennale, as well as spend two summers in Ireland on residency through the European Council. As an avid presenter, Courtney has participated in conferences such as SECAC, SLSA, and CAA. Last August, she had her first solo exhibition, Domestic Consumption, at Columbus State University, and has since shown her work at other universities including the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, and Augusta University. Featured in Sculpture Magazine as an Honorable Mention for the 2017 Outstanding Student Achievement Award, Courtney continues to push her work into new realms. Currently she is exhibiting in The Delaware Contemporary Museum’s 2017 MFA Biennale: Domestic, as well as an upcoming show-swap with Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. Having just completed a 40-foot mural and a public arts sculpture, Courtney is also heavily involved in her local community.
I create mixed media ceramic sculptures, to facilitate a dialogue between our natural environment and the excessive consumer-based environments in which we live. These sculptures, which I imagine have grown from their surroundings, suspend and amplify our relationship with the consumer-based materials we consciously and unconsciously display within our homes as a way of creating a sense of domesticity and belonging. Often drawing inspiration from my own personal narrative, that of consistent upheaval, relocation, and adjustment to new places, my work can appear both grounded and in a state of motion. I believe that the objects we surround ourselves with, both natural and human made, have a history, a life, and a language of their own. By gathering discarded objects and sculpting new aggregate forms which deliberately consider nature at the surface level, I am bringing to mind the suburban decay and wastefulness of our consumer based society.
While I use a range of materials and processes in each project, my methodology and ideas are consistent throughout my body of work. Although the sculptures may not always appear similar in form, they are linked by recurring formal concerns and consistent subject matter. The subject matter of each body of work centers around the adaptations of nature within our ever-changing urban and suburban environments, as well as varying aspects of domesticity, to include collection, framing, and display.
The local Georgian Stoneware clay I use is selectively embellished with brightly pigmented commercial and handmade glazes to create various tactile surfaces which result in an indigenous, yet human-made appearance. Combining a variety of techniques including hand building, wheel throwing, and casting my sculptures appear to be taken over by nature itself—the open, organic forms often encrusted with flora and fauna imagery. Recognizable objects such as plates, tea cups, knick-knacks, and other found materials play a symbiotic role in generating a dialogue within the work—that of nature adapting and consuming our personal environment, and we as humans consuming our own urban environment within nature. Excessive attention to detail and a strong sensibility to the surface allows me to transform clay into sculptures that have metaphorically grown from my own physical environment.