By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Behind the exhibit: A glimpse into the work of CWU guest artist RYAN! Feddersen

Isaac Dobmeier
Isaac Dobmeier
Various enameled pots. Work by RYAN! Feddersen

RYAN! Feddersen presents her unique perspective on art and modern life through a new exhibition in the Sarah Spurgeon Gallery. 

“I see art as a valuable form of communication,” says Feddersen. “The way we see and the way we process our societal experiences. And so I started to create art as a way to positively contribute to culture.”

 A mixed-race Native American artist and member of the Colville confederated tribes, Feddersen’s art tackles themes such as the conflict between her native culture and American culture, exploitation, extraction, capitalism and colonialism.

“I work sites specifically a lot, so a lot of my work is very much related to specific topics, and the work is made around thinking through a problem. Problem-solving is a part of my practice,” Feddersen said. “This idea of working through a societal issue is part of what inspires the way I make work and I always try to look for ways that it can point to a productive resolution, whether it is a shift in ideology or action or a way to kind of process through what’s happening.” 

Feddersen describes herself as a visual artist who specializes in interactive installation and public artwork.

“Interactive installation is a form of art practice that combines different mediums [like] sculpture [and] printmaking, and I have a lot of projects that have elements that are participatory with the audience that they can touch, or have interactive components,” Feddersen said.

Accessibility and connection to an audience are essential to Feddersen’s art. 

“[My] intent is to encourage introspection in the audience. I try to provide enough direction that they can reach their own discoveries,” says Feddersen. “…I want it to be as legible for a 5-year-old as it is for an art historian… I want everyone to feel like they’re getting something out of it and clearly having an experience that is understandable to them no matter what their starting off point is.” 

Feddersen’s public works include murals, sculptures, prints and immersive installations scattered throughout the Pacific Northwest.

According to Feddersen, the exhibit features more of a selection of different types of past projects, including a new mural based on a piece that was done before, shown for the first time as a permanent installation in a new place. 

When asked what the best piece is at the exhibit, Feddersen said: “The last one I made. That’s often the answer [for artists].” 

Bold colors, broad shapes and Native American animal references are all hallmarks of Feddersen’s work in the gallery, while a towering monochrome mural previously mentioned serves as the centerpiece of the exhibit—spanning the entire left-hand wall. 

Heather Horn Johnson, the Gallery Manager and Department of Art and Design Head at CWU initially suggested that RYAN!’s work should appear on campus. 

“Our gallery committee and department have been trying to bring in more diverse perspectives and I think RYAN!’s being part of the Colville confederated tribes, being Native American, and her work showing so many themes, a lot of the changes, and development, inflation… things that we can all relate to but specifically from [the perspective of] her own identity and experiences,” Johnson said.

Gallery attendant Kira Jane was impressed by the gallery’s use of the space, admiring how much was able to fit in the limited area. 

“We’ve never had something this ambitious in the gallery because it’s so small and [it] was just amazing to see someone fully utilizing the space,” said Jane, viewing RYAN!’s art along with the crowd. 

The RYAN! Feddersen solo exhibition will remain on view until Oct. 21.

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