Janette Ryan‘s photographs of Puget Sound capture an ethereal side hidden behind the hustle of everyday life. Through her lens, the horizon line dividing sky and sea dissolves into nothingness. Docks and pilings become graphic strokes so pure as to resemble a mysterious language of dots and dashes left behind by humans from an indeterminate age. These visual impressions could have emerged from anywhere, or nowhere. Their origins could be post-apocalyptic – or preceding Tacoma’s emergence as a city, when there were no cars, rails or airplanes. Even her images of iconic structures such as the Narrows Bridge refuse to be pinned down – they brim with a dynamism that seems to call back from the future.
Ryan’s photographs are on exhibit at the Woolworth Building, 11th & Broadway, through Feb. 2012. Her spare, modernist images in black and white attempt to strip away the non-essential to reveal the “beauty and harmony” of nature, she explains. At the same time, they reflect upon “the changing face of Tacoma and the surrounding environment.”
She cites British photographer, Michael Kenna, as an influence. “I love minimalist art and architecture for its clean and simple lines. I was hoping to use those same concepts to photograph our busy urban landscape, with an emphasis on Puget Sound.” Her effects are even more striking when one realizes that the otherworldly landscapes she shoots are mostly popular, well-trafficked sites around Tacoma, such as the Ruston Way waterfront. Continue reading