Georgia artist Courtney N. Ryan envisions her ceramic sculptures as organic natural seed pods that travel from place to place in the natural world.
Artist: Born in Fort Bragg, NC, in 1991 into a long line of Army service members. Her family moved soon after she was born to Fort Benning, GA, where her father was stationed. The base is near Columbus, GA, where her mother and her grandmother are from. The “Fountain City” on the Chattahoochee River became her childhood home too.
Ryan graduated with a BFA from Columbus State University and earned her MFA from Georgia Southern University. She immediately landed a full-time job at Florida State University, working for its Master Craftsman Program as a Fine Arts Specialist for the Fine Art and Facilities Department.
In 2019, she moved back to Georgia to teach in the Foundation Studies Department at Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta.
Studio: The artist has a small studio space at her Decatur-area home for 2D works, sketching and ideas. She is building a bigger shed-type space in her back yard.
Ryan also has studio space for clay work at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta, where she joined the welcoming clay community in 2022.
Art & materials: Ceramic seed forms from various clay bodies including porcelain, stoneware and Lizella clay, a dry course clay mined in Lizella, GA (near Macon).
“I am inspired by clay’s ability to mimic textures and colors from the environment,” said Ryan. “As a collector and observer, I am always looking at what’s on the ground beneath my feet.”
What’s popular: Primarily wall sculptures. Also larger, freestanding sculptures ($1,200 to $2,500 per piece with larger installations priced by the collection).
Other favorites: Smaller wall hanging works ($500 per piece).
- Metal rib for smoothing.
- Wire brush tool for scoring.
- A small wooden driftwood stick, which she shaped by hand with a knife, for adding texture to works.
- Seeds, flowers, plants.
- Fungi, rocks, organic materials.
- Unique, untouched natural environments
Unusual request: Recently asked to install her entire collection of over 200 seeds with less than 24 hours’ notice on a space at SCAD, a weekend before classes started.
“It was a task getting everything together,” said Ryan. “But one that resulted in a great final visual.”
- One-month residency at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT. Summer 2023.
- SCAD’s Presidential Fellowship for Faculty Development Award. Spring 2023.
- Tri-State Sculptors Conference Panelist and Presenter. 2023.
Recent project: “The Travelers,” an installation of 135 seed forms made from both white and black porcelain, with brightly colored engobes and celadon glazes.
This work is a visual circle on the wall and represents the cyclical nature of a seeds journey and purpose. This piece was created at and installed in Vermont Studio Center, as part of the one-month residency program.
- Two-month residency in ceramics at NES Iceland in Skagaströnd, Iceland. Summer 2024.
Where to buy:
- Instagram: @courtneynryan