rburns

Ryan Anthony Burns

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Ryan Anthony Burns
About the author

Ryan Burns’ artistic practice is informed by his childhood explorations in Ohio creek beds, working to peel back the shale strata in search of trilobites and isotelus fossils. Much of his work is still in the vein of the amateur natural historian, researching and documenting an assemblage of elements and ideas to investigate contemporary issues concerning the natural world. “Biodiscourse” is Burns’ ongoing series of tree-ring rubbings on collage. His most recent work, “Climate Proxies,” includes tree-stump rubbings taken from historic and specimen trees that were downed in super-storms. Burns has taken rubbings of trees felled in Central Park, Greenwood Cemetery and Prospect Park from Hurricane Sandy 2012, from a freak tornado in Prospect Park 2010 and from Hurricane Katrina in City Park 2005. In 1999, while living in Ashland, Oregon, Burns began prototypes for these tree-ring rubbings and a year later, living in New Orleans, he began to conceive of Biodiscourse by expanding the conceptual backing of his previous experimental art, influenced by Max Ernst’s frottages. He looked to chronicle the state of diminishing old-growth forests and the role they play as important carbon sinks by documenting the growth rings of unique trees - proxy indicators of the past’s climate conditions when decoded by dendroclimatologists. Burns converted a decommissioned ambulance to run on used vegetable oil and drove it to remote timber sales in the Pacific Northwest as a tongue-in-cheek illustration of the role of deforestation and fossil fuel emissions. As he drove from Louisiana, he scavenged restaurant waste oil for fuel and salvaged paper such as billboard remnants, blueprints, coloring books and maps for materials. He took these found papers to clear cuts, where with crayon he archived the impressions of the individual fingerprints of each tree stump. Ryan Burns is represented by the Augen Gallery in Portland, Oregon, and he has received arts awards and residencies from The Ford Family Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, the Oregon Arts Commission, the Regional Arts & Culture Council and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. He was educated at the Herron School of Art Indianapolis, Indiana, and he has exhibited his work in solo and group shows nationwide.