Kathleen Ryan is known for her larger-than-life, beaded sculptures of rotting fruits, ranging from bunches of sagging grapes to an almost entirely decomposed slice of watermelon. Ryan’s laborious beading process pays homage to the beaded fruit craft tradition widely popularized in this country from the 1940s to the 1970s. Ryan follows her predecessors’ method of affixing found plastic beads and semiprecious gemstones to a molded base with steel pins, amounting to at least 10,000 beads and stones for any given work.
Assigning cheap, mass-produced beads to the intact portions of the “rind” and the valuable, natural stones to the rot, Ryan purposefully “uses the wrong parts” for each area. “Though the mold is the decay, it’s the most alive part,” she says. Evoking the coloration and texture of the mold Peniillium italicum, Bad Lemon (Persephone) carefully tows the line between beauty and repulsion.
— Adria Gunter, Curatorial Assistant
In the gallery below, several works from the collection pair well with Kathleen Ryan’s sculpture Bad Lemon (Persephone).