In 1993 Ryder Cooley received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in Sculpture. She then migrated to San Francisco and became an active member of the local art and music scenes. She completed an MA in Combined Media at SUNY Albany and an MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2008.
Ryder Cooley has participated in a wide variety of exhibitions, performances, collaborations, public works and educational projects. Her work has been presented at locations including: White Box and Exit Art galleries in NYC, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Theater Artaud in San Francisco, Robert Wilson Watermill Center on Long Island in NY, Pan American Art Projects in Miami FL, Dorsky Museum in New Paltz, NY, Proctors Mainstage Theater in Schenectady, NY, public art projects in Indonesia, El Salvador, France and the Czech Republic. She is currently based in Hudson, New York.
As an installation and performance artist, I invent haunted dream worlds that echo political and cultural phenomena of past and present. Video, sound and lighting create an atmosphere of dis-reality. Rescued materials are transformed into props and garments which reveal incomplete evidence of pasts. Emerging from places of post-industrial decay and wilderness,, these installations give refuge to new habitations of marginal hybrid species. Mythical androgen creatures stem from cracks and crevices as drawings and performance characters. Their bodies are modified through transfigurations that abandon notions of gender and identity. By performing within these installations, I myself become a Utopian gutter creature.
Public performances, interventions, murals and collaborations are modes that I employ to engage viewers in multi-sensory dialogs. Working resourcefully and sustainably while establishing and maintaining art practices that extend beyond the context of industry and convention is integral to my approach. Exchanges with environments and communities in local and international settings are critical to my practice.
Ryder Cooley is a spinner of sad songs and lyrical fairytales. Her primary instruments are ukulele, accordion and singing saw. Currently she is performing with the Dust Bowl Faeries, a dark carnival ensemble. Dustbowl Faeries on Facebook and Instagram.
As a musician and song writer, Ryder Cooley has played in a variety of bands and musical projects including soundtracks for film, dance and theater. She has recorded albums with the groups Fall Harbor, Down River, Corner Tour and The Darklings, many of which can be discovered via Out of Round Records. Currently, she is performing with Hazel, a taxidermy sheep.
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