Inspire – Women of Dartmouth Stories

I Push A Petal From My Gown

Liza Ryan ’87 shares her artwork’s literary perspective

Women had been attending Dartmouth for around 15 years when I got there in 1983. I loved my four years at Dartmouth but at times it felt like a boy’s college. Although the overt misogyny on campus felt annoying, I think I gained strength, persistence and resilience from my experience at Dartmouth. It feels now like living in that atmosphere prepared me for the world today and although nothing can excuse their despicable behavior, the Kavanaughs, Weinsteins and Trumps do not completely shock me. My time at Dartmouth in some ways mirrors my life as a woman working and raising children in a world run by white men. Not only did I benefit from the incredibly rich academic environment at Dartmouth, but I believe I left better prepared for the “real world”. Prepared meaning it’s easier to think more clearly, to strategize about helping to level the playing field for women and people of color in this country without being distracted  by disbelief and rage (I have to admit that in the current climate these sentiments still come into play but at least are not paralyzing).

Fluid, 2005

I was an English major and I loved every minute of it. I couldn’t have asked for more engaged, dedicated and enthusiastic professors than Professors Cook, Pease, Mathis, Gelfant among many others. I continue to carry their contagious passion for literature with me in my everyday work and life.  I borrowed the title of this piece, I push a petal from my gown, from Emily Dickinson’s poem #443, and consistently approach my work from a literary perspective – for this I am endlessly grateful to Dartmouth.

Liza Ryan portait

1 thought on “I Push A Petal From My Gown”

  1. As a multi-media artist interested in connections between language and visual experience, I would love to understand in greater depth how your interests in literary processes and visual/creative process intersect. What does it mean to you, apart from the bare action of selecting a phrase from another poet as an external label for an image, to “approach your work from a literary perspective.” How do all your other perspectives come into play around this language or narrative-based core? If that question even makes any sense?

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