Artist Ryn Osbourne, an Ohio native and graduate of the College of Wooster with a BA in sociology, currently works as a RTI (response to intervention) instructor with the Graham Primary School. A member of MINT Collective, in her artistic practice Osbourne transforms everyday found objects into stunning works of art. Such creations include a limited-edition print available exclusively to VIP ticketholders at Off the Grid on Saturday, March 12. Marisa Espe, education assistant at the Wexner Center and cochair of the GenWex Advisory Committee’s internal committee, recently spoke with Ryn about her practice, her admiration of Noah Purifoy, and the importance of the arts in the classroom. Their conversation follows.
ME: Describe your artistic practice.
RO: I am a reactionary, place-based, social engagement maker. My work is informed by my surroundings, employing a critical sociological lens on my social-spatial experiences and the experiences of others. I use the visual to express ideas derived from sociological themes and research. I currently work with photographic printmaking, collage and mixed media, and I often use whatever materials I have readily available.
Photo courtesy Ryn Osbourne.
ME: Can you talk about the significance of found art in your work and the transformation of object into artwork?
RO: Objects are symbolic of ownership, movement, activity and place. Objects are the material representations of the body’s needs and actions and are the results of a body’s ability to make, obtain, consume and discard. As objects move through this fluid process, their meanings change, and discarded objects are often seen as purposeless. By taking found objects, discarded and left behind, and then using them to print cyanotypes, I am adding a new meaning to the object by allowing it to be viewed outside its conventional space, re-mystifying the ordinary.
ME: I think it’s fair to say that you and Noah Purifoy deal with similar themes, especially through the recontextualization of the object. What are some of your thoughts on Purifoy’s work?
RO: Noah Purifoy’s work is incredibly loud, but in a beautiful and tactful way. Though his work is made from junk, the materials are so attentively selected and organized. His careful choices of symbolic objects communicates a specific feeling, narrative and experience, which I find as an artist to be an outstanding accomplishment. The intent within his work makes his pieces so powerful. While his work may speak of his own experiences, it also conveys a greater historical and social-political message.
ME: Off the Grid is a benefit for education programs at the Wex. Can you talk a little about your own experience in art education?
RO: I incorporate the arts into an afterschool program at which I work. My students use the making process to learn how to think creatively and to use descriptive language. We recently began using visuals as a way to discuss social- and self-awareness. When my students hear that they will be making art, they feel a sense of relief and it provides them with a space to learn and make mistakes without feeling like there is a right or wrong answer, an experience every student needs in order to understand their own individual value systems, separate from grades or testing.
Go out, get found—and get your own print featuring Osbourne’s transformative vision, free with purchase of a VIP ticket for Off the Grid on Saturday, March 12. (General admission tickets also available.)