Ryan Carrington: Blue Collar Defender

Ryan Carrington is the workingman’s artist.  Considering the context of his work over the years and you would agree as well.  There is a deep appreciation for the hard work that blue-collar workers put into their daily work lives and it’s that sweat and determination that seeps into the screws and fabric that permeate through Carrington’s creations.

Carrington earned his BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was immediately accepted into the ceramic artist-in-residency program at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center.  Now everyone knows once you graduate from college you don’t necessarily know what you can do with your degree and it was this opportunity in Snowmass, Colorado that Carrington honed his skills into a medium with a message. “This shift allowed me to develop into an interdisciplinary artist, and became the foundation on which all of my work is made today.”  Said Carrington.

Being from Wisconsin, Carrington came from a working class family where he worked a variety of jobs such as a landscaper, maintenance man and even a construction worker and said he “gained an appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the labor force.”  Carrington walked in the very shoes of the workers he now represents in art pieces, so one could say there is a little bit of his own history reflected in what he makes.  

After earning his MFA at San Jose State University he was hired as a lecturer to teach the classes at the University’s foundry metal works facility located south of the campus.  It was here that he was able to make cast metal sculptures casting objects that symbolize the American blue-collar worker.  Leather gloves, a brimmed hat, work boots, even a life size bale of hay all with realistic clarity that makes you believe when you pick them up they won’t weight five pounds or more. 

Now currently working at Santa Clara University as an Full-Time Adjunct Lecturer in the Art Department, Carrington teaches sculpture and 3D Design classes.  It is here that he has found new opportunities through grants and personal research, and soon through a brand new state-of-the-art Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History building set to open in the Fall of 2016.  Nestled in his office/studio Carrington has created a work area to create his current body of work ‘Flag Series’ where he creates American Flags with men’s suits and Carhartt workman’s pants, many of which Carrington wore out himself.  Carrington said “The act of sewing these two different types of clothing together into this hopeful and proud icon is meant to be a call for coming together as a union, and asking for greater understanding and empathy across our ever-widening class system.” 

Carrington will be showing these flags in his first solo show ‘Made in America’ at JCO’s Place in Los Gatos, California opening reception June 25, 2015 from 7pm-9pm and running from June 23-July 19, 2015.   To see more of his work visit his site www.ryancarringtonart.com and follow him on Instagram @ryan_carrington.  

 

A colored grouping of rolled up ties lay rolled up on a table so that Carrington can see the color play happening in order to incorporate them into a flag.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A colored grouping of rolled up ties lay rolled up on a table so that Carrington can see the color play happening in order to incorporate them into a flag.  Photo © Aimee Santos

America is going through an enormous transition period, and the shift in the public perspective towards the culturally defined roles of blue and white-collar workers is what I’m interested in addressing.
— Ryan Carrington
Carrington works on one of his flags in his office/studio space at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA.  In the background hangs one of his Chalk Line drawings using a carpenter's Chalk Snap-Line tool.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington works on one of his flags in his office/studio space at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA.  In the background hangs one of his Chalk Line drawings using a carpenter's Chalk Snap-Line tool.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Flag #1' in Carrington's Flag Series show layers of men's suits and Carhartt workman's pants as the strips and men's ties as the stars.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Flag #1' in Carrington's Flag Series show layers of men's suits and Carhartt workman's pants as the strips and men's ties as the stars.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Standard" Aluminum, Found Object 38"x9"x16" 2009.  Image courtesy of the Artist Ryan Carrington.

'Standard" Aluminum, Found Object 38"x9"x16" 2009.  Image courtesy of the Artist Ryan Carrington.

A detail of cast off fabric on the floor of Carrington's office/studio at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA. Photo © Aimee Santos

A detail of cast off fabric on the floor of Carrington's office/studio at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA. Photo © Aimee Santos

Fabric is everywhere in Carrington's office/studio at Santa Clara University as he works on his Flag Series project for his upcoming solo show at JCO's Place in Los Gatos, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Fabric is everywhere in Carrington's office/studio at Santa Clara University as he works on his Flag Series project for his upcoming solo show at JCO's Place in Los Gatos, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

"Screw Relief #3" Screws and Plywood 26"x22"x3" 2013.  Image courtesy of the Artist Ryan Carrington.

"Screw Relief #3" Screws and Plywood 26"x22"x3" 2013.  Image courtesy of the Artist Ryan Carrington.

A detail of sawdust that lines a crevas in a four foot wooden sculpture of a Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

A detail of sawdust that lines a crevas in a four foot wooden sculpture of a Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Sawdust from a short day's work on Carrington's four foot wooden Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Sawdust from a short day's work on Carrington's four foot wooden Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The sun sets on Carrington's four foot Contruction Worker's hat showing the layers of plywood used to make up this massive sculpture.  Photo © Aimee Santos

The sun sets on Carrington's four foot Contruction Worker's hat showing the layers of plywood used to make up this massive sculpture.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington kneels on pads to help ease the pain after long hours working on his four foot wooden Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington kneels on pads to help ease the pain after long hours working on his four foot wooden Construction worker's hat.  Photo © Aimee Santos

I had multiple teachers and mentors who inspired me through their own commitment and dedication to their practice, and I hope to share that same example with my students.
— Ryan Carrington
As a previous professor of sculpture at San Jose State University Carrington helped students learn about welding and metal works, pictured on the left, he watches a student practice a tig weld at the Foundry Metal Works in San Jose, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

As a previous professor of sculpture at San Jose State University Carrington helped students learn about welding and metal works, pictured on the left, he watches a student practice a tig weld at the Foundry Metal Works in San Jose, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington, on the left, manages the flow of iron during a past iron pour at the San Jose State University Metal Works Foundry.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington, on the left, manages the flow of iron during a past iron pour at the San Jose State University Metal Works Foundry.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington leaves a screw higher than the others to test out the aesthetics before adding more to a Screw Relief Drawing.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Carrington leaves a screw higher than the others to test out the aesthetics before adding more to a Screw Relief Drawing.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Henry Carrington watches his father Ryan work on his Screw Relief Drawings on the kitchen table.  Normally Ryan works on these pieces after Henry has gone to sleep so this is the first time his son has been present to see the creation of his father's art.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Henry Carrington watches his father Ryan work on his Screw Relief Drawings on the kitchen table.  Normally Ryan works on these pieces after Henry has gone to sleep so this is the first time his son has been present to see the creation of his father's art.  Photo © Aimee Santos