I first met Ryan at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) – Atlanta. The core of SCAD’s Master of Fine Art (MFA) program is a progressive series of Photo Arts classes, Photo Arts I-V. These classes allow MFA students to develop a cohesive body of work through assignments and critiques which help progress the work to the next class.
At one of our early Photo Arts classes, Ryan brought in a handful of Polaroids and spread them on the table. I remember the reactions from other students. Silence. We didn’t know what to say. It was just a collection of Polaroid snapshots. What is he going to do with these? We weren’t sure he had an idea of where to go.
We were all working hard … doing the necessary soul-searching … refining our artistic voices … listening to those voices and making the highest quality work possible as a result. In the midst of this, Ryan Nabulsi had the audacity to play in art school. I remember being jealous of that.
Don’t misunderstand – he put in the work, but he seemed to enjoy the journey of discovery more than most. It wasn’t about just making photographs, it was about the process behind the making, and about the possibility of unexpected discoveries along the way.
His series took shape over several Photo Art courses, and so did a photographic style that combines serendipity with image manipulation, abstract with concrete, and painting and drawing with photography. His work had a pulse, and we began to “get it”.
Ryan’s images affect the viewer in a unique way. Most fine art photographers print large-scale so we viewers can engage the images on our terms. Ryan’s large images do the opposite for me. I feel very small in front of a wall of his massive Polaroid prints. Like the visual equivalent of Alice in Wonderland, this effect allows me to explore the images on the scale of the original Polaroid.
I highly recommend seeing his work in person! Ryan says, “These images walk the line between imagery, abstraction, photography and process.” See for yourself at his solo exhibition, Ryan Nabulsi: Photo Secession at Poem88, 1100 Howell Mill Road Suite A03, White Provision District, Atlanta, GA 30318.
The opening reception is 7pm, September 24. His artist talk is October 1, 2011 @ 1pm. If you can’t make the opening, the exhibition is up through October 8. Additional information is available in the ACP 2011 Festival Guide. Or from Poem88.
Congratulations on the solo show, Ryan!