Ryan Wilks is a self -taught artist born in Kansas City, working predominately in the medium of oil paints and watercolor. Major themes in his work centralize on issues of gender and sexual identity. He is known for using his art to incept ideas into the minds of his patrons and viewers, with the hope of inspiring a dialogue about those ideas. He has traveled across the country, studying artists in Chicago as well as San Francisco; providing a less conventional education, which helped shape his execution of human form as well as his subject matter.
His work gained national notoriety in June of 2016 with his year-long project, Gender Treason, which explored the various realities of queer people living in Kansas City via photography, painting, and literary documentation. The project was predominantly funded through Kickstarter and Inspiration Grants from ArtsKC and was written about in The Huffington Post, as well as making front cover in The Pitch and Kansas City Star.
In 2017 his work took on preformative qualities with his one man show, “Trigger Warning”, which spoke on how trauma shaped him as an adult and as an artist. Trigger Warning was soon followed by “Queerotica”, a one night only performance and visual arts showcase of queer sexuality in June of 2017. Queerotica was an opportunity for Wilks to flaunt his exhibitionism and appeal to curious voyeurs. In Annie Raab’s review of Queerotica, she wrote, “This is fraught territory for an artist, this warm, dark space between public and private life, and Wilks opens it wide to show us something so personal that we want to look away.”
His willingness to share personal aspects of his life trough his art has aided in his energy work with over 200 people in Kansas City, who have received energy paintings from him. Energy paintings involve a very intimate and vulnerable telling of ones truth, in this case by the patron/subject. As the subject sits and gets painted, they explore thought out loud for up to two hours as Wilks captures the essence of the person with paint. At the end, Wilks gives a reading to the individual and they get to keep the painting as a reminder of what they need to work on.
His newest project, Here Where You Wish, will be a 3 month instillation at the Downtown Public Library in April of 2018.
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