Linnea Ryshke, Artist Spotlight No. 38


When will we wake, and realize these walls were, all along, only skin?

Connection, the kind that nourishes the marrow, does not know the bounds of species. I do not risk hyperbole to say that all humans know this truth. From the prolonged relationship of a companion animal to the acute encounters with a neighboring heron, hen, or turtle, I relish the moments when I come body to body, being to being with another animal.

Works by © Linnea Ryshke. (Click any image to view the slideshow.)

But we so often forget this capacity for interspecies connection in a world insistent on marginalizing nonhuman animals. They are commodified as meat, fetishized as zoo animals, demonized as predators or prey for hunting, or castigated as vermin. We have long forgotten how to be in admiration of the fellow beings whose capacities for consciousness, joy, curiosity, resiliency, grief or kindness are beyond what we will ever understand.

My art practice comes a deep longing for a cultural ethic that values nonhumans as siblings rather than objects or automatons. My paintings, drawings and sculptures serve as records of the interactions I have with nonhuman animals—whether at a farm, zoo, pond, or sidewalk. Through image-making, I do not intend to “capture” the animal subject but tactilely feel my way towards them and evoke their elusive presence. Many of the works involve an act of ritual, sustained witness, or a particular ethic involved in making the paintings or drawings. With art uniquely able to touch the softest core of us and, through this means, to make and share meaning between us humans, my work intends to be an open door to invite others in and participate in conceiving another way to relate and care across species lines.

Linnea Ryshke (American, born in Los Angeles, CA) creates paintings, drawings, artist books, installations, and poetry that seek to restore the value of nonhuman animals as kindred beings worthy of our adoration, respect, and empathy. Her work has been exhibited nationally, and she released her first book, “Kindling,” with Lantern Publishing and Media in the fall of 2021. She is working on a multi-media project based on an art and ethnographic research trip in spring 2022 to four different sites of human/animal encounter in Sweden. She is currently based in St. Louis, MO.

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