Ryan Carrington grew up in a family that values labor, hard work, and creating with one’s hands. At the heart of all of his pieces lies a quiet homage to the modern-day craftsman and tradesman. Carrington’s respect for work that is unique, complicated, and sometimes forgotten, inspires him to take ordinary building materials and push these products to new limits. He challenges himself to see what force and tension they can withstand, what innovative fabrication techniques can be developed, and what beauty emerges when the purpose of these classic materials is reimagined.
The viewer is swept into Carrington’s reverence for the nostalgic and simple icons of Americana. He re-creates these everyday American tropes with incongruent materials and shifts in scale. The brick oven mitt, the plywood hard hat, and the necktie and plywood pie, lead us through unexpected, ironic, and humorous twists. His passion for honoring the process of labor leads to endless hours of problem solving, experimentation, planning, math, precision, tedium, and teamwork. The result is a visual metamorphosis of unusual combinations that kindle the viewer’s admiration for the possibilities that are unlocked from exceptional attention to detail and “off-the-shelf” supplies like screws, chalk lines, plywood, copper, and brick.
In his latest work, Carrington tackles the raw challenge of making abstract forms out of tools that traditionally follow a strict function, such as electrical conduit, 2”x4”s, steel banding, and chalk-snap line tools. In “Rhythm and Tension”, individually milled 2”x4”s are pulled taut by steel banding over internal structures. The pressure between the rigid internal structure and forceful cinching of the banding shapes the orderly wooden slats into tenuous volumetric abstractions. Carrington uses the inverse of this equation in the “Conduit Form Series” by using the minimum amount of repeated lines to fill up the maximum amount of space. A juxtaposition occurs between the tightness of the “Conduit Form Series” and the rebellious, organic nature of “Rhythm and Tension”. In the most recent continuation of his “Chalk Snap-Line Drawing” Series Carrington uses the repetitive nature from the lines of a chalk reel tool and negative space to create plaid patterns on paper.
Carrington’s art sheds light on a corner of our society with a rich history of craftsmanship, process, and precision. By nurturing a fresh fascination of tools and materials, he provokes consideration for how we value each other in our ever-changing community.