Friday, November 4, 2011

Ryan Maguire

Location: Narragansett, RI
Space: Ryan Maguire's Studio
October 2011

When we first spoke to artist Ryan Maguire, he wasn’t sure we’d have much to work with. He explained that he’s been all over the place lately. Working as a teacher in Boston but residing in RI, he spends a lot of time drawing out of his backpack, in transit or in his small studio space. Funnily enough, Ryan gave us one of the most engaging stories we have heard to date about how his work has morphed in subject matter, scale and process. After Ryan received his BFA in Illustration and Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Boston, he started working with strong elements of design and developed Magmo the Destroyer as a way of dealing with the world around him. Magmo’s illustrations grapple with societal concerns such as pollution and big business and according to him, he destroys the bad things that try to destroy us. Ryan’s work as Magmo shifted when he started the VOIDS series. VOIDS spawned again as a way of dealing with concerns and problems, but this time around, the problems had hit Ryan more close to home. His work became more large scale and difficult to read. What he thought represented simple concepts were mind boggling to the viewer. The pieces appeared as a mishmash of body parts, entwined and imploding and exploding all at once. They were engaging, but Ryan found that people were not sure what to make of them.

Then Magmo’s work began to shift again. His large scale charcoal and graphite pieces became smaller and more detailed. With the start of his MFA program, he was exploring storytelling in the details of his art. As his work shrunk, he started drawing in notebooks, and in turn found this as a way of encouraging story. What better way to be reminded of storytelling than to create art within a book?

There is no way you can pigeonhole Ryan into one medium, style or form of expression. He is deeply linked to his art and this results in inspired work. His latest character is Thunder High Chief, who draws in elements of Magmo, in that he deals with societal issues, but the character also incorporates the more detailed stories he’s been illustrating lately. While his artwork constantly changes, we are always excited to see what the next metamorphosis will be in this artist's portfolio.

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