Stephanie J. Ryan
“To keep silent too long is like letting water stagnate so that it rots.”
--AUGUST STRINDBERG, The Ghost Sonata
The stories that families tell themselves and present to others can provide valuable information about the identity of the group, often revealing the motivating forces behind collective and individual behaviors. The tradition of storytelling when family groups gather during holidays or significant, transitional events (such as funerals or weddings) are of particular interest to me, as these have the power to mark and change the individual and group identity and to reveal much about the stain of past trauma and world events. How many secrets are discovered as the children of the family grow to adulthood and as their roles shift, and what is changed in the transference of these stories to the next generation? These issues are in continual flux, as memory demonstrates its mercurial nature, and as perceptions of inner and outer events change inevitably with the passage of time.
These paintings depict narratives whose imagery is derived from family photographs of holidays and special events, interwoven with elements appropriated images from popular culture, religion, books on etiquette, and alchemy that are meant to disrupt the main narrative by suggesting gaps in memory and perception. While the images have their origin in my own fluid family history, my intent is to represent any family whose history contains issues left unaddressed, questions, and/or secrets left untold for whatever reason.
 NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Plays by August Strindberg, vol. 4. Trans. Edwin Björkman. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916.