HORNELL – A trip to the bank this month may lead to a journey into the dreams of a young painter and architecture student from Greenwood.
Ryan Sherman’s work, entitled “Shermanology,” is on display throughout August at the Steuben Trust Company at 1 Steuben Sq. in Hornell.
The exhibit caught the eyes of bank patrons even as Sherman set up the show last Thursday. Many people paused to puzzle over the canvases which feature vibrant colors seemingly spattered with black India ink. Sherman explained that the paintings depict his dreams.
“You’re seeing a vision of my dreams on canvas. I like the quote, ‘I dream my dreams and then I paint them.’”
While some artists let their work speak for itself; Sherman speaks for his art, describing the creative and technical processes that led to the paintings on display. Working in ink, acrylics, and watercolors allows him to make vivid his sometimes shadowy recollections of dreams.
“When you dream, you don’t really see a full figure sometimes. You kind of see a shadow, and then when you’re walking next to something or have déjà vu, you see that, like, memory from your dream.
“The colors play into the dreams because when we go to sleep and wake up, we always think of the colors we see. We don’t always see in color in dreams; we see in black and white, and I just like expressing and honing in on the colors that I paint with.”
At first glance, the streaks of black ink may seem randomly applied, but like the paintings of Jackson Pollock, an artist Sherman admires, a pattern is visible. Studying Sherman’s “Shadows of Dancers Left Behind” gradually reveals human figures gliding gracefully.
“You drip (the ink) on the canvas from above, and you take the canvas and sort of like this,” Sherman explained, making a swirling gesture. “It looks like dancing with a big canvas in your hand. And whatever ends up, you get the streaking from it. It gives it depth, and it gives it motion.”
Painting affords Sherman a creative break from the rigid rules of architecture, which he is studying at Alfred State College.
“This is really different from architecture because you get to express a different side of the art world, and it’s not all about structure, and it’s not all about like certain things like the codes of architecture and things like that. It’s just more of a creative side. This is what I do for a little motivation, to keep myself rounded.”
Sherman credits Molly Hoppel, his art teacher at Canisteo-Greenwood High School, for motivating him and helping him get two of his sculptures displayed at the renowned Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. He also draws inspiration from the hills surrounding his Greenwood home.
“Just the sound of nature. In my painting, you can probably see there’s a little grass behind in this one. In this one, you can see a dog print because my dog actually stepped on it, and I didn’t want to repaint it. I left it there for a little fun.”
Bank customers who visit Sherman’s show might turn a fast financial transaction into an artistic experience that pays dividends for both the artist and his audience.
“When I see somebody looking at my paintings, I sort of stay back and look at what they’re thinking of. And it’s like they’re trying to put one and one together with their dreams and my dreams, and it just makes a whole new thing in and of itself,” Sherman said.