This video piece captures the first of many live musical art installations that Ryan is now in the process of creating, which involve composing her own music with accompanying color field paintings. She aims to construct environments within the art world, and around the country where people who may have felt rejected by the church or may never go to church can experience and engage with the presence of God through art.
Alongside installation art her most current work includes a series of monochromatic portraits where she focuses on the emotive humanistic aspects of the individual. Both of these bodies of work have given her the opportunity to combine her painting and musical practices, while serving as an effort to insert a bit of warmth, solace, and sanctuary into such a chaotic time of socio-political division and global pandemic.
During the 2020 lockdown Kelli Ryan was drawn to photographing and painting color blocking compositions of everyday objects around her apartment and neighborhood. These color field compositions give a visual breathing space and pause to see the beauty in the everyday, even amidst the global pandemic and sociopolitical unrest. Still engaged in this obsession with color and composition today, she has incorporated the simplistic spreads of solid color blocking fields on and around the figures within this video to give breathing space to the viewer, while sonically journeying from despair to triumph.
This need for respite or solace comes out of a reaction to the last two years of individual and collective global trauma. People are inundated and bombarded with so much vying for their attention as well as burdened with the pandemic of the past two years.
Ryan wanted to present this symbolic visual of the full armor of God, described in Ephesians 6:10, in simplistic yet colorful ways by using pedestrian clothing items to highlight how much of a commonplace and everyday necessity it is that we put on the full armor of God daily. We can be under spiritual attack at any moment so we have to be spiritually fortified and put on spiritual armor in a fashion as common as putting on clothes everyday.
Additionally, a traditional literal “full armor” is something that, within our contemporary daily life, we don’t connect to as relatable. Most of us have never worn an actual coat of armor or know anyone who does, but we can relate to a beanie hat, a painted canvas, a t-shirt and sneakers. The visuals of this video piece brings the still relevant yet bygone symbolism that Paul describes in his letter to the Ephesians over 2000 years ago, into a modern day context.
Ryan originally wrote the song Sunbeam in 2020 right after the murder of George Floyd. Just prior to Floyd’s murder residents lockdown in their apartments in NYC would shout and cheer outside of their windows to celebrate the essential workers. You can hear a bit of this field recording that Ryan captured from her apartment window mid-way through the song. The 7pm daily collective cheering for essential workers ceased just a day after the death of George Floyd. There was a collective mourning and Ryan eventually saw how this tossed the sanity of humanity to and fro, from hope to despair; like a spiritual battle.
The music illustrates the progressive stages of when a person goes from despair to putting on the full armor of God; eventually standing in victory. It starts off with somber vocal wailing. Then to a wail that ascends upward as a cry to God. This is followed by a bit of a lull in waiting for prayers to be answered, finally leading into a more militant marching band sequence, which signifies putting on the armor and being ready for battle to have victory over the enemy.
Artwork by: Kelli Ryan
Lebato Lee Tlaka
written and produced by Kelli Ryan 2020
Video piece is free for public viewing online at www.kelliryan.com and Youtube
Instagram: @kelliryanart website: www.kelliryanart.com
I have an online apparel shop that showcase clothing designed as an extension of my painting work:
All music was written and produced by Kelli Ryan
Instrumental only. There are no lyrics to this song.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
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