Craig Ryan (American), Greener Conquests (2012). Cast silicone, urethane rubber. FSU MoFA 2015.1a-i.
Greener Conquests is a work created by Florida State University alumnus Craig Ryan in 2012. It is composed of nine 10”x10”x5” squares of cast silicone fingers. The layout of the fingers are closely condensed, all facing in the same direction. Each finger is heavily detailed like a human finger with fingernails and wrinkles on each knuckle. Upon closer inspection, the fingerprint of the fingers is also visible. Some fingers also appear to be slightly taller than others, giving them a more organic, grass-like appearance.
Ryan’s decision to cast only fingers, unattached to the human body allows him to create interesting forms and experiment with color and texture. The artist’s main intention behind this piece was to focus on touch and to begin to discuss how this piece may bring to mind much larger issues. The artist’s direct quote on this piece stated, “…Connection has been mediated by technology and I think the juxtaposition of running one’s own fingers through a bed of synthetic imitators is an inviting illustration of our reality. This experience may evoke larger narratives such as overpopulation and the use of genetically modified foods needed to sustain the population. In genetic engineering, DNA splicing between different species is standard. The result in identity also interests me, what is this new ‘object’, what exists, and what has been lost?” (MoFA)
Greener Conquests was positioned on a low pedestal at the front of the WJB gallery, as the first piece visitors approached upon entering the space. Its nine components required a long pedestal, extending down the center row of the room. Although each square is very clearly made up of silicone finger molds, the work takes on a uniquely organic form when placed in a procession. The organic and grass-like qualities of this piece were considered in relation to the surrounding works. Places Remembered was chosen as the accompanying object as its texture is vastly different to the silicone molds. The bright red color of this piece provided a complement for the bright green of Greener Conquests as well. As the exhibits largest piece, Greener Conquests contributed a unique presence within the space. Its path down the center of the room was used to draw attention to Folding Triangles, the focal point of the exhibition.