Ryan Treadwell

Artist Statement 

Twentieth century German-American developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson proposed the idea that personality develops in stages impacted by social experiences. In each stage of an individual’s life, different influences play varying importance, such as a greater impact of mothers in early childhood which is eventually replaced by peers. Divided into eight basic sections of thought, Erikson explores the individual in terms of the group, the collective conversation, and the influences in which they surround themselves with.

My work, though not as categorized as Erikson's theory, branches off this concept, drawing on ideas of dependency, burden, comfort, projection, intrusion, and restraint. The work highlights the impact of our interactions and our relations. It explores self definition by instead looking at the group, the influx of people, and the connections that stick. So often we see ourselves as defined individuals and in this we believe that we shape the situations that we place ourselves in. Rather, it may be this situation that is the molding factor, the person we are, simply a result of these conjunctions. My work looks at the ways in which we balance these relationships, both the momentary and lasting. It is an exploration of one's own control of identity, or lack there of.

In process, my work is often drawn from my own experiences, examining larger arches with imagery that is peppered with my own personal set of symbols. The imagery and symbols often draw to childhood, highlighting the naturality and integration that these relationships have within us. In medium, the idea of wearables became an immediate draw due to the proximity to the body. A second skin highlighted the ideas of letting someone close enough to the body and in this, a draw between comfort, practicality, and confinement. Furthermore, there is relevance in the way wearables change ones own interactions. Changes in posture, gesture, verbiage, confidence; all innately affect the way in which we form relationships. The character we take on with clothing and the character the clothing itself can project was a jumping off point for my exploration of wearables as a medium. The wearables all push the boundaries of traditional clothing, often having a subtle and yet theatrical quality. My garments are reserved but are all there to question functionality, to shift the wearer into one contrived position or the other, to define their action in the moment. Control is given up, taken out of the wearer and instead placed in a created external force.

In contrast, the non wearable pieces focus on crowd dynamics. The two often work off each other, a garment inspiring a two dimensional piece and in contrast a two dimensional piece occasionally being repurposed into a garment. These non-wearable pieces look at the effects of the elements of codependence, interaction, and relationships on a larger scale. It breaks from a singular view and instead examines the whole. The work examines the individuality within the group, the inevitable variation and the failure to be a complete copy of what we surround ourselves with. Simultaneously, it is stepping back from the group and losing this individuality and instead seeing a singular pattern.