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February Featured Artist: Modern Terrain

We were smitten from the moment we saw Ryan (*girl) McAbery's work. Of all the art we've seen and loved over the years - we've never seen anything like the multi-dimensional pieces that she creates in her Portland studio. Layers of acrylic, backed with original photography, topped with map based drawings of some of our favorite subjects....they're captivating, detailed and approachable.

Check out her latest collection, on our walls through the beginning of March; and meet Ryan during the West Seattle Art Walk on 2/14 from 5-8p.

Octopus Tacoma

How would you describe what you make?

My artwork is reflective of environment, community & culture.  Each piece is based on location and begins with travel and research. I travel with my camera to take photographs and learn about the different amazing communities, wildlife and landscapes across the country. I take pictures, ask questions, hike, explore and then use that knowledge to create original pieces based on what I’ve learned. I research to find historical and topographic maps from the areas where I’ve photographed. I then use the maps to create different silhouettes from the terrain.

Each illustration has a pattern to it, the pattern is the map below, drawn out by hand in white ink.  Once the maps and silhouettes are created I finish the piece with one of my photographs, telling the story of what I learned about the location.

My media is a mix of clear acrylic, ink and photography - all layered together to create multidimensional artwork that tells the story of my research from the landscape below.


What drew you to this medium and style of work?

I was gifted old film negatives from the department of fish and wildlife - they were giant clear maps and I’d never seen anything like them. I was completely inspired by the media and developed my style from there.


Can you tell us about your favorite piece in the current collection?

Any with an orca on it.  They have my heart :)


If you could collaborate with anyone (living or not), who would it be and why?

I am so inspired by my community of artists. There isn’t one person I want to work with over another,  I just want to collaborate with anyone pushing the envelope in creativity.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

There is a difference between hobby and job.  If you make a living as an artist, it has to be treated like a day job.


Can you describe your favorite part of the process in your work?

Finding the maps, taking the photos, pairing the photos with the finished pieces….

When you are in the studio, what are you listening to?

Every podcast ever and terribly happy and ridiculous blue grass.

What is your most treasured handmade possession?

A self portrait my teenager painted in his life drawing class.


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