Thursday, September 26, 2019

Veronica Ryan's Curiosities of the Caribbean

Bright orange shelves beckon me to discover their treasures. Pieces of coral, seed pods, and plastic bottles, stacked, adorned, and bound together with netting or string, are placed on crocheted doilies. Veronica Ryan’s works are evidence of a process of collection and ordering, a curiosity cabinet filled with fragments of her experience as a woman born in Montserrat and raised in England.

Nearby, hundreds of egg crates are stacked and connected by crocheted tunnels cut into them. One wall is lined with remnants of pipes, drains, and other plumbing components, closed up with cement or clogged with hair. 

These seemingly everyday objects, robbed of their function through Ryan’s interventions, convey a sense of displacement, and a yearning for home or a sense of belonging.  

The slightly cluttered arrangements, which evoke knick knacks on shelves in someone’s home, make it harder for viewers to find a place of contemplation. Yet, the show raises much larger issues of European colonization and its lasting effect on the peoples, cultures, and economies of the Caribbean, as well as the volcanic eruption in 1995 which forced many residents of Montserrat to evacuate permanently. 


  1. Hi Caito, I think you did a great job on organizing and describing details of the show.
    One minor thing I want you to fix is that, I will just move "currently on view at Paula Cooper Gallery" to the end, or maybe move the last date info to the first part of 2nd paragraph. They do not have to be separated into the two different parts of the writing.
    The other thing is that, "viewers are invited...history, identity, and memory" is maybe too general? Do you mean Ryan's Caribbean history/background or viewers' personal history/identity/memory or particular world history? I actually see the artwork as very specific to the artist's personal background due to coral pieces and seed pods. Maybe you can expand the terms a little bit more to clarify the sentence.

    Thanks for writing this! When I saw this piece, it makes me very warm and somehow nostalgic although the objects are not really related to my personal memory.

  2. Hi Caito,

    I agree with So Ye, in the first paragraph you start taking us on a journey, a walk-through of this complex installation, but it gets cut in half by the information about the gallery. I think you do a great job describing the many materials the artist's used to build her pieces, but maybe be a bit more descriptive of their form? For example, you write, that the egg crates are stacked and altered and cut away... but cut away how? in circles? triangles?

    I loved this show but didn't read the press release, I am intrigued about the artist's Caribbean background and how it relates to the show :)