Ryan Arthurs is a visual artist living in Buffalo, New York. He received his MFA in Photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2012, and a BFA in Studio Art from Carleton College in 2005. Ryan is a founding member of Houseboat Press, a photography book publishing company that has exhibited both nationally and internationally.
In 2018, Ryan was included in The Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Top 100. His series “Strata” received an honorable mention in the International Prize and the Publication Prize categories for the Silver Eye Center for Photography Fellowship. Ryan was shortlisted for the 2017 Oseroff Memorial Purchase Prize at CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, NY., and in 2015, was nominated for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Artist Award.
Unkindness of Ravens, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, 2015
Lobster Trap Fire, Greenspond, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
Cod Fishing, Greenspond, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
The island is pervaded by a subtle spiritual atmosphere.
It is as strange to the mind as it is to the eye.
Old songs and traditions are the spiritual analogues of
old castles and burying-places and
old songs and traditions you have in abundance.
There is a smell of the sea in the material air and there is a ghostly
something in the air of the imagination … You breathe again the air
of old story-books.
-Alexander Smith, A Summer in Skye” , 1885
Fishing Stage, New World Island, Newfoundland, 2016
Sea Cave, Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, Newfoundland, Canada, 2016
I have been photographing thresholds – on Newfoundland Island; Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; and the Isles of Skye and Eigg, Scotland. In our age of globalization, these remote, outport communities remain isolated still. They are are situated between worlds, both geographically and metaphorically. The islands have come to embody the old and the new – spaces where time collapses – where past and precent collide. These spaces are liminal: they occupy positions at boundaries and borders. Their dimensions include physical, temporal, and spiritual registers including property lines, rivers and bogs, lochs and ponds. Some have obvious borders, while others are symbolic or ambiguous.
Liminal times and spaces are often disorienting, and serve as a setting for supernatural occurrences in storytelling. While we identify some of these locations for their features, we sense others as an ineffable sensation, a sort of thin veil between our world and the next. Myths often arise out of such disorientation. Stories relating to these liminal spaces accumulate over thousands of years seeking to explain what we cannot rationalize. Information and history packs into layers of sediment; the mineral strata describes millennia. As an ancient surface in our natural world, rock formations carry etchings, paint, and the record of thousands of footsteps. To the trained eye, rock faces read like sentences and paragraphs; the landscape reveals its history. On a planet of constant change, thresholds are inevitable.
This ongoing body of work, Strata, explores some of these ancient sites that connect us to the past via the strange folklores, myths and legends passed down through generations. In a time where satellites can triangulate our physical location in seconds, the experience of disorientation is fleeting. This work aims to understand and record these transitional spaces, to return to the viewer a sense of the liminal, of history, and of disorientation. Ultimately, Strata works to repotentialize these discursive sites, peoples, and objects, by opening up the traditions of storytelling, myth, and fable through a photographic narrative.
Burning Moose Head, Greenspond, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
Ying Yang Wolf, Mallaig, Scotland, 2016
Cleaning Cod, Greenspond, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
Asphalt Kiln, New-Wes-Valley, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
Deadman’s Cove, Newfoundland, 2016
Causeway, Greenspond, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
Britches, Greenspond, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
New Father, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, 2017
Iceberg, Twillingate, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
Fort Edward Blockhouse, Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada, 2015
Shark Jaw, Twillingate, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
Snow Chains, Greenspond, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
Spillars Cove, Newfoundland, 2016
Mining Hut, Tilt Cove, Newfoundland, Canada, 2016
Fire on Water, Greenspond, Newfoundland, Canada, 2017
To view more of Ryan Arthurs’s work please visit his website.