Tribe House Blog

Dylan Ranney – art that counters the autopilot

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Posted : June 4th, 2012 by

Our friend Jason Vance ( recently caught up with visual artist Dylan Ranney and graciuosly let us repost this. You must know about Dylan – he recently performed at our TEN-TEN-TEN event and is one of the visual artists to appear at Lille Gard Festival this summer. An amazingly talented & humble man who makes incredible robots (among other art).

dylan-ranney-artistoook: What got you started in art.
Dylan: As a kid my mom encouraged me to be creative and my older brother Lucas is an accomplished amateur painter. I remember looking at his art and being inspired by it.

Later on, being in high school, taking my first art class in my grad year, never pursuing art outside of being a hobby, my high school art teacher, George Greaty, inspired me to keep pursuing art outside of school.

I then went on to university as an Environment Science major and ended up choosing some electives in art.  They ended up being the only joy I had in post-secondary education.  I then decided to switch over to the fine arts department since that’s what I love.  I decided that I wanted to pursue my passion and not feel obligated to have a high income career and do what I love and see where God takes me.


oook: Are you almost done school?
Dylan: Yes.  I have one year left.


oook: Do you have any upcoming events or shows?
Dylan: On May 27, I have a show at the Rotary Center for the Arts.  The opening reception is Friday night 7:00 June 1st.  That’s going to showcase 12 of my latest painting series called, “Playgrounds”.



oook: What’s your main discipline?
Dylan: I would consider my main discipline to be oil painting.


oook: You are also an accomplished drummer.
Dylan: Yes.  Music is in a tight race in terms of my passion.  It’s very close with visual art.  I’m constantly torn with my time between music and visual art.  I’m torn because I love them both very much.

I have a band called Oceans Apart.  We are writing some new songs and are going to be recording in the near future.  If some success comes out of that, that would be great.

My long term goals and my passion revolve around visual art and the ideas, passion and vision I can express around social change through my art.


oook: Talk about social change and what you want to accomplish there.
Dylan: Social change has to begin within people.  And in order for people to be inspired to access it, a catalyst needs to occur.  I think that for myself some of those catalysts have been hearing peoples’ thoughts, seeing ideas expressed visually in a way that inspires me to create.  If anything, I’m not pushing some generalized political goal.  I’m not trying to get people up in arms about something, I’m trying to bring awareness to peoples’ internal eyes.

My current project, “Playgrounds”, is focused on the children I work with at the Thrive Afterschool Care, but more specifically the psychology and the social circumstances that are the signifier to that social issue is often found in the behaviour or psychological traits a child might have.  I think that I’m very receptive to children, as I’ve been working with them for most my life, and when a child is struggling or having a great triumph or having an emotionally pungent movement in their life they don’t know how to show it outwardly all the time.  They show it inwardly.  They show it through the play, but at the same time, it doesn’t alleviate the pain they are going through.
I like to think that by viewing some of my work you might have a greater insight into someone’s own heart.


oook: You had an exhibition earlier where you had two coffee cups on a shelf.  What were you trying to communicate with that piece?
Dylan: That piece is called “Withdrawal.”  It’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek.  The point of the piece is for people to come into the gallery, see this white wall with these coffee cups, and wonder if that was art.  Or if someone left their garbage on the wall or if they should be viewing it as art.  And then have a laugh .  Our culture loves to criticize art because it’s so outside the norm of professionalism.  I was there in my mentality a while back.  I love to have that there to draw people in.

When they get to the art, they see there is a button.  An internal motor inside the box that I built that when the button is pushed, I get them to dance and vibrate around each other.  That symbolizes the connection of my generation’s co-dependence on the substance known as caffeine.  But not just caffeine, it symbolizes the withdrawal from the things we need to get through the day.  Now we’re not living, but just getting through the day so it’s a commentary on that and the criticism.  That there’s more than meets the eye.  I wanted it to have a magical connective property.

oook: You like to get people to think about themselves.
Dylan:  I love to get people to think about themselves.  I think about the time people spend criticizing others and I think that if we examine our own hearts on a more regular basis, we’d be much slower to criticize.


oook: What emotional response would you like from people?
Dylan: I don’t want to tell people how to view my art, what to think or how to feel.  My art is simply a catalyst.   I want people to ask questions.  Ask questions about themselves.  Question why they think what they think.  Why Dylan Ranney Robotsthey feel what they feel… whatever that is.  I think that art is a great avenue for that.  Conscientious art is a good avenue for that.  We see so many images every day.  We are bombarded by images from the media every day and we don’t stop, we don’t have time to stop, and contemplate these images.  They come in, go out and through osmosis, they become part of who we are.  I want people to sit and contemplate what they are seeing.  Take a break.


oook: So you’d like your art to be a catalyst for people to reflect on their own thoughts?
Dylan: Yes. I will give myself permission to wish for that.  As an artist advocating for any sort of social change you don’t have a whole lot going for you in terms of a mission statement, sway or in the authority you have.


oook: What sort of social change would you like to see?
Dylan: How are we defining the term “Social Change?”  I’m thinking more of an individual change that eventually affects hundreds of people on an individual level, within a societly, that will instigate social change of some kind.  I won’t take credit for it, but the goal is to see people slow down and observe and maybe see a piece of what’s going on in society and internally.  I think people are numb to their contenplative processes of their soul sometimes.  We run on automatic.

I want art that counters the autopilot.

For more on Dylan Ranney, visit his website:


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