Tia Ryan “Absentia” 17.10- 22.11.2008

October 17, 2008 6:36 pm Published by
Logo Gallery WM
Tia Ryan “Black Venus”
Absentia is Tia Ryan’s (San Francisco, 1983) first solo-exhibition in Amsterdam’s WM gallery.
Ryan’s photographic portraiture seeks to bridge the gap between familiar iconography(in this case the surrealist artist Frida Kahlo) and the social reality of living in a multi-ethnic culture. By her own admission she tarries between notions of what is black and what is white, what qualifies as sexual objectification, what for that matter qualifies for familiar and unfamiliar territories to explore and inhabit.“Throughout my life I have been dealing with my identity and the conflict and notion of having to choose which race I am. The images serve as a reflection of who I see myself to be as a person and an artist” Tia Ryan.
By appropriating obvious poses/pictures from Kahlo, Ryan has sought not only to make such ambiguity, essential, and relevant to herself, but rather essential to the conversation of sexuality and power in contemporary art.Her own depositing and reworking these posses serves to give identity and form to her own female ideals and ideas of art making in male dominated art world. Indeed she is among a younger generation of female artists who have thrown themselves into such deeply rooted narrations.Absentia seeks to place Ryan and her work in the midst of a conversation about identity as it pertains to physiognomy. Identity as it pertains to culture. Do they go hand in hand, or are they devoid of each other. Can they be separated? As the title implies it is obvious that they have been separated and continue to separate. Yet in such separations a new hybrid is formed one that straddles and makes use of both sides.


I believe Ms. Ryan’s constant desire to blur and push against boundaries was cultivated in the tight narrow streets of San Francisco, California where she was raised. The multi-ethnic microcosms of the city mirrored her own navigation of her heritage. When it was time for her to expand her knowledge she moved cross country to Boston’s Art Institute, again she had to redefine herself. Her life has been as infusion of her black and white American roots as they intermingled with influx of cultures.

I think it her ability to see from that in between place, that makes her work so powerful as it reflect her challenges and adaptations to her won identity. She takes what has been and is and makes it her own, she makes it something new.

Frida Kahlo’s work serves as a center piece for her poses and feel of her work, but she adds more as she brings her audience to question the limitations of gender identity, exploitation, familiarity and the ambiguous.

Her work is a journey she invites you to take with her, it is the journey she travels on her way to discover what it is to be human, female and a citizen of the world.

Alycia Lee


Tia Ryan “Tres Amores” Tia Ryan “Violin”