Stephanie J. Ryan was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in the small midwestern town of Ballwin, Missouri. In 1990, Ryan received a BFA from Washington University, St. Louis, with a background in printmaking and drawing. In 1994, she went on to earn an MFA from the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, with an emphasis in printmaking, drawing and painting. She has exhibited her work widely, nationally and internationally, and is included in numerous public and private collections. Ryan is currently an Associate Professor of Art in Painting/Drawing at California State University, Fresno.
Ryan’s imagery treads the line between drawing, low-tech printmaking, and painting processes, as a way of mirroring the layered and obscured terrain of the psyche. Her work depicts inner experiences steeped in the conflicted iconography of dreams, memory, and reverie. In these regions, anthropomorphic animals, therianthropic beasts, animated toys and human figures interact and overlap in a sometimes-solid/sometimes-ambiguous space, enacting narratives based upon personal experiences and a re-telling of family history.
Directly referencing family photographs or constructed scenes from life, Ryan incorporates strategies of strange juxtapositions and layering; striving for multiple meanings, concerned most often with the complexities of interpersonal relationships and family dynamics. Her most current work dwells on related issues of parenting and family: most especially, the influence of childhood experiences, traumas, and memories on parenting, and the effects of these on subsequent generations.