Having completed her Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at Cornell University in 2019, Professor Ryan also holds an M.A. in Art History, a B.F.A. in Studio Art, and a B.A. in Humanities from the University of Colorado. In 2017, she was awarded an American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellowship, becoming part of a lineage of AAUW Fellows.
Professor Ryan's areas of research include Transatlantic visual culture, modern and contemporary arts of the African diaspora, Latin American art, intersectional feminism, and women-identifying artists. With a decolonial and feminist perspective, her work engages with issues of race and gender through theories of consumption, labor, recuperation, and care - particularly as they intersect with maternity. Her dissertation, Liquid Gold, traces lactation as labor, and human milk as commodity, in the visual culture of the Transatlantic. Other publications include articles and book chapters on diverse and exciting topics like the visual culture of: witches and midwives; milk banks, sideshows, and women's motorcycle clubs; and nineteenth century immigrant wet nurses. Her most recent research trajectories include damage and recovery in photography, food and feminism in contemporary Caribbean art, and maternal labor in the work of contemporary African American women artists. In recent years she has presented her research at Princeton, Yale, Cornell, McGill, the University of Michigan, The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris, Texas Tech, the NYU Institute of Fine Arts and Frick Collection Symposium, and the College Art Association Annual Conference. She is thrilled and honored to give the keynote lecture at the University of North Carolina Art History Graduate Student Conference in September, 2020.
With a professional background in the museum field, Professor Ryan has served in outreach positions at the Johnson Museum of Art, the Norton Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and curated exhibitions on Coco Fusco and Ana Mendieta. She is currently curating an exhibition on the abstract works of Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun, photographs altered by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and recently reprinted. The exhibition, We No Longer Consider Them Damaged: The Abstract Works of Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun, will be on view at the Flaten Art Museum and available to the St. Olaf community from October 1 to November 22, 2020.
As an educator, researcher, writer, and curator, Professor Ryan's highest priorities are providing a platform for the study and appreciation of marginalized artists, and facilitating an understanding of women's lived experiences through visual culture.
One of her greatest joys is experiencing the sharing of ideas among groups of engaged students, and the opportunities to work individually with students as they become acquainted with their interests and find innovative ways to pursue them.