Quantcast
Popular
Installation view of "Liza Ryan: Antarctica" at L.A.'s Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery. Flying Studio

Liza Ryan’s Altered Images Summon the Terrible Beauty of Antarctica

By Patrick Rogers

Liza Ryan's trip to Antarctica for her 50th birthday was the journey of a lifetime, a dream she had been working toward for years. In preparation for the two-week visit in 2016, the Los Angeles–based artist did her homework, reading Peter Matthiessen's End of the World and a book about British explorer Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated voyage to the South Pole aboard the sailing ship Endurance.


But nothing prepared her for the real-life encounter with the continent at the end of the Earth. "My initial impression was one of suspended belief because I had no point of reference for what I saw. The scene from the ship felt like a backdrop for a movie or theater," she said. Only on further inspection, when Ryan boarded a kayak and actually entered into the landscape, did the utterly foreign scene begin to make sense. "It's almost like you have to touch it to believe it's real," she said.

"Conduit" 2017Liza Ryan

Ryan said she was particularly affected by the profound quiet of the place. Freed from the normal perceptual distractions of home, her ears opened to unaccustomed sounds and even a new type of listening, she recalls. "Sounds consisted of the ocean, wind, creaking glaciers, penguins and whales blowing and breaching. Calving glaciers sound like cannons going off—it's beautiful and terrifying and more alive-seeming than any landscape I have visited."

Back in her studio in Los Angeles, Ryan spent more than a year manipulating photographs she had taken in Antarctica in an attempt to conjure memories of not only what she saw there, but also what she felt. Twenty of her images, now on view at the Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery in Los Angeles, present landscapes and seascapes heightened by applications of ink, watercolor and graphite that guide the spectator's eye in an artful act of editing. The purpose, said Ryan, is "to emphasize certain elements that I remembered but are easy to overlook at the reduced scale" of a photograph on a gallery wall.

"Glass" 2017Liza Ryan

Ryan uses daunting expanses of sea and sky as framing devices that compress the jagged landmasses and serrated icebergs—the only possible stages for human activity in her images—into thin strips of middle ground. Looking at the vast frozen tableaus, you can't help but confront your own insignificance in them. And yet Ryan's representations, which appear nearly monochromatic on first glance, are also subtly alive with color and detail that encourage exploration and, ultimately, evoke a thrilling sense of awe.

Two years on, Ryan continues to work with the photos she took in Antarctica to bring out the emotions she experienced there. In part, she's inspired by the precarious state of the continent's changing climate, which makes her art seem more urgent. "Antarctica is melting and could disappear," she said. Her motivation also stems from the "recalibration" she underwent there, which altered her perception of her place in the world. "The place has a palpable power that is indescribable," she said. "I continue to learn from it in the studio ... I can't seem to let go."

Liza Ryan's "Antarctica" will be on display at Kayne Griffin Corcoran in Los Angeles through March 17, 2018.

Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
GMO
Soybeans with cupped leaves, a symptom of dicamba injury. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Dicamba Damage Roars Back for Third Season in a Row

University weed scientists have reported roughly 383,000 acres of soybean injured by a weedkiller called dicamba so far in 2018, according to University of Missouri plant sciences professor, Kevin Bradley.

Dicamba destroys mostly everything in its path except the crops that are genetically engineered (GE) to resist it. The drift-prone chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-target fields. Plants exposed to the chemical are left wrinkled, cupped or stunted in growth.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Memphis Meats

FDA Takes First Steps to Regulating Lab-Grown Meat

By Dan Nosowitz

Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat or in vitro meat—has long been enticing for its potential environmental, social and economic benefits.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Scott Pruitt speaking at meeting at the USDA headquarters in Washington, DC, on Jan. 17. Lance Cheung / USDA

Breaking: Sierra Club Demands Pruitt’s Emails After Only 1 Disclosed by EPA

As part of ongoing litigation, the Sierra Club has demanded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) search Scott Pruitt's personal email accounts for work-related emails, or certify clearly and definitively that the administrator has never used personal email for work purposes. The demand comes on the heels of a successfully litigated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's email and other communications with all persons and parties outside the executive branch. These facts were first reported in Politico early this morning.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals

Iceland Flouts Global Ban to Slaughter First Protected Fin Whale of New Hunting Season

Iceland's multi-millionaire rogue whaler Kristján Loftsson and his company Hvalur hf have resumed their slaughter of endangered fin whales in blunt defiance of the international ban on commercial whaling.

The hunt is Iceland's first in three years and marks the start of a whaling season that could see as many as 239 of these majestic creatures killed.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Life- Trac / CC BY-SA 3.0

Farm Bill With Huge Giveaways to Pesticide Industry Passes House

A farm bill that opponents say would harm endangered species, land conservation efforts, small-scale farmers and food-stamp recipients passed the U.S. House of Representatives 213 to 211, with every House Democrat and 20 Republicans voting against it, The Center for Biological Diversity reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
First gas from the Oselvar module burns on the flare of the BP Ula oil platform in the North Sea. Varodrig / CC BY-SA 3.0

Oil and Gas Operations Release 60 Percent More Methane than EPA Thought, Study Finds

A study published Thursday found that U.S. oil and natural gas operations release 60 percent more methane than currently estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to a press release from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at University of Colorado, Boulder.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Pexels

Natural Remedies: 8 Plants That Promote Wellness

It may seem like natural remedies are having a moment, but the trend is nothing new. Herbalism—the use of plants for their medicinal properties—has been around long before modern-day pharmacies, and certain sprigs and leaves are still touted for their healing powers. Whether you're planning your next natural shopping trip or want to try growing some helpful herbs at home, this overview can help you get started.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Vegetables in Whole Foods Market. Masahiro Ihara / CC BY 2.0

Food's Environmental Impact Varies Greatly Between Producers

By Jason Daley

There's no way around it—everything in the grocery store, from nuts and kale to beef and apples, has an environmental impact. Fertilizer causes water pollution, farm fields can encroach on habitat, and a lot of carbon gets released when food is transported from one place to another. But it turns out not every stalk of broccoli or pound of Gouda has the same ecological footprint. A new study of food systems in the journal Science shows the same items sitting next to each other on the shelf can have radically different impacts.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!