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Ryan Leitner

Ryan Leitner

Tell me a little bit about you!

I live in Boston, where I went to grad school (SMFA at Tufts) and have lived in many places. Previously, I was in NYC for four years, and before that I was London. I grew up in a navy family and lived all around the world so it’s natural for me to just pick up and go. We were always close to a body of water, so I think that's why I use it a lot in my work. Also, my dad and his brothers' names are Ricky, Randy, and Ronny, so that's why I'm named Ryan.

When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?

Art has always been a thing for me. Moving every six months or so, and the one thing I remember from each place is making some sort of paintings, sculptures, whatever was around. My dad and I would work on this little clay monster called "mort meep morp" whenever he was in town. I think we still have it somewhere.

What ideas are you exploring in your practice?

Identity and space, and how they come together. 

What is your process like?

Usually in this order: research, talk, sketch, approach, re-sketch, re-approach, start thinking about the next piece, finish current piece.

Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?

I was lucky to find a lot of mentors in grad school, but one professor said that her work always is drilled down to the "ethics and aesthetics." It made things a lot clearer for me to think this way about making. Plus, it just rolls off the tongue.

If you could sit down for dinner or a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you chat about?

Pablo Picasso. I would ask him what a good night looks like. 

What are three words you would use to describe your work?

history painted installations

What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?

Sketch or doodle, read some sci-fi or watch conspiracy theory documentaries. Anything to get my mind as far away from the problem as possible because it usually bring me back faster with some ideas.

What do you love most about your medium? What challenges or surprises you most about it?

My mediums run the gamut from ancient forms of painting on water to using microscopes to film my moving images. I get bored easily with regular modes of creating, so I like to pick ones that are challenging and keep me on my toes. Also, they’re just more fun to play with. If I knew what my work was going to look like before the day began, that would be too boring for me.

What keeps you creating?

Seeing the need for the idea to be presented. Also, it’s fun.

What are you working on right now?

A solo show coming up in January at AREA Gallery in Cambridge called Resolution, as well as a short film called Father Figure about how queer people are sold their history through pop culture and not always passed down from their parents, like other cultures have.

Find more at ryanleitner.com and on Instagram @ryanleitner!

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Kenneth Alme

Kenneth Alme

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