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
Oceans
The crew of the Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise voyage into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch document plastics and other marine debris. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a soupy mix of plastics and microplastics, now twice the size of Texas, in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. Justin Hofman / Greenpeace

Teen Vogue Joined Greenpeace at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — Here’s What They Saw

By Perry Wheeler

Throughout this year, people all over the globe united to take on plastic pollution. Greenpeace supporters have asked their local supermarkets to phase out throwaway plastics, helped us reach 3 million signatures to companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever demanding they invest in real solutions and participated in beach cleanups and brand audits to name the worst corporate plastic polluters.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Advocates Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Tell the Truth About Climate Change

By Jeremy Deaton

It has been a tough few months for climate change. In October, an international body of climate scientists declared humans have a little more than a decade to make the drastic changes needed to keep rising temperatures reasonably in check. In November, federal scientists released an equally grim assessment detailing the unprecedented floods, droughts and wildfires expected to hit the U.S. Then, this month, with the world ablaze, diplomats gathered in Poland to bicker over how much water each country should pour on their respective fires and, in some cases, whether scientists were exaggerating the size of the flames.

Keep reading... Show less
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Dirty Scheme to Make Americans Buy More Gasoline

By Rhea Suh

It's not often that an industry chieftain brags to investors about picking the pockets of American families with help from the White House.

That's what happened, though, after Big Oil schemed with the Trump administration last summer to ensure higher gasoline consumption—to the tune of $16 billion a year—and more climate-disrupting carbon pollution from our cars, vans and pickup trucks.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
The planned Liberty Project is an artificial gravel island to allow oil drilling in the Arctic. Hilcorp / BOEM

Trump Administration Sued Over Controversial Arctic Drilling Project

Conservation groups are suing the Trump administration to halt construction of a controversial oil production facility in Alaska's Beaufort Sea, the first offshore oil drilling development in federal Arctic waters.

Hilcorp Alaska received the green light from the Interior Department in October to build the Liberty Project, a nine-acre artificial drilling island and 5.6-mile underwater pipeline, which environmentalists warn could risk oil spills in the ecologically sensitive area, threaten Arctic communities and put local wildlife including polar bears at risk.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
AAron Ontiveroz / Denver Post / Getty Images

5 Everyday Products Contaminated With Plastic

However, the infiltration of plastics into our daily lives goes much deeper, making it hard to avoid this polluting material which will remain in our ecosystems for centuries to come.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Fracking waste from the Vaca Muerta shale basin in Argentina being dumped into an open air pit. Greenpeace

Indigenous Group Sues Exxon, Energy Majors Over Fracking Waste Contamination in Patagonia

A major indigenous group in the Argentine Patagonia is suing some of world's biggest oil and gas companies over illegal fracking waste dumps that put the "sensitive Patagonian environment," local wildlife and communities at risk, according to Greenpeace.

The Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén filed a lawsuit against Exxon, French company Total and the Argentina-based Pan American Energy (which is partially owned by BP), AFP reported. Provincial authorities and a local fracking waste treatment company called Treater Neuquén S.A. were also named in the suit.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
A Yelp event at Rip's Malt Shop in Brooklyn, New York, which serves vegan comfort food, including plant-based proteins produced by Beyond Meat and Field Roast. Yelp Inc. / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Should Plant-Based Proteins be Called 'Meat'?

By Melissa Kravitz

Fried chicken, bacon cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza aren't uncommon to see on vegan menus—or even the meat-free freezer section of your local supermarket—but should we be calling these mock meat dishes the same names? A new Missouri law doesn't think so. The state's law, which forbids "misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry," has led to a contentious ethical, legal and linguistic debate. Four organizations—Tofurky, the Good Food Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Animal Legal Defense Fund—are now suing the state on the basis that not only is the law against the U.S. Constitution, but it favors meat producers for unfair market competition.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
A coal-fired power plant in Jiangxi, China. chuyu / iStock / Getty Images Plus

IEA: China and India to Fuel Further Rise in Global Coal Demand in 2018

By Daisy Dunne

The IEA's Coal 2018 report finds that global coal demand grew by 1 percent in 2017 after two years of decline. The rise was chiefly driven by global economic growth, it says. Despite recent growth, demand is still below "peak" levels seen in 2014.

Demand is likely to "remain stable" until 2023, the report authors say. This is because falling demand in western Europe and North America is likely to be offset by increased demand in a host of Asian countries, including India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Carbon Brief takes a look at the IEA's changing coal forecasts for key world regions.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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