Continuing through March 17, 2018
Liza Ryan’s depictions of Antarctica range from dark and brooding to icy calm. Unlike other photos of the continent, they integrate graphite, charcoal, ink and gouache — hybridizations so subtle you almost don’t even notice their presence. The opportunity to photograph Antarctica is an achievement in itself, but it’s heartening to learn that Ryan gained a deep level of concern and even adopted a sense of responsibility for the environment through the process.
Of course it would be ideal if these photo hybrids reflected that sense of alarm, but aestheticizing is tricky in that regard. Ryan’s justice-seeking mission may come across through the work’s greater context, but the visual experience itself is overburdened by beauty. In other words, the objects themselves don’t hit hard enough to spell out earth’s desperation. State-of-the-art photo framing, with an excess of reflection, is prone to do that. Still, the beauty to be had here does go deeper than superficiality.