August Art Show Features Cherry Hill Resident Edna Ryan

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Edna Ryan’s art collection is on display at the Cherry Hill Public Library until August 31. His works feature pastel drawings of nature and flowers, such as the one pictured, “Hellebores and Ferns”. (EMILY LIU/The Sun)

If you walk down to the Cherry Hill Public Library this month, you might stumble across Edna Ryan’s art exhibit, ’96 and Going Strong,’ a 29-piece exhibit that features realistic paintings by flowers and nature scenes mostly done in pastel. .

“That’s pretty much everything I liked,” Ryan said, referring to the art on display. “If I start something, I usually stick with it until it’s finished and framed.”

Ryan noted that she had no half-finished drafts at home or unfinished paintings. She also doesn’t do portraits of people because she finds them too difficult.

Many of his paintings begin as pictures. Ryan finds her inspiration in everyday life, like when she saw the light hitting the bowl of flowers in her kitchen. From there, Ryan works to recreate an image first in pencil and then in pastel. The finished product is chalky and can be easily marred if not careful.

On average, Ryan tends to complete one painting per month, although she notes that some months go by without any work.

“Now I have time ahead of me,” she said. “That’s why I thought, ‘I’m going to keep doing it.’ It’s something I do best and love to do.

Ryan has been working with pastels for 12 years but has had an interest in art since she was a child in elementary school. She majored in art and secretarial studies at West Catholic High School in Philadelphia and was the art editor of the yearbook, for which she created ink drawings.

Although a nun offered him a scholarship to the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, Ryan chose to become a secretary for Smith Kline and French Laboratories to help support his family.

“I thought you had to have more imagination, creativity (to have a career as an artist) and I was like, ‘I don’t really think I’m that creative’ and I didn’t want to take it, “, she recalls.

Not taking advantage of this scholarship led her to meet her husband Frank at a mutual friend’s wedding while working as a secretary. They hit it off quickly; Frank had been fired from the Coast Guard when they met and later joined the Navy.

The couple lived in Marlton for 35 years, raising three children before moving to Cherry Hill. Meanwhile, Ryan continued to attend weekend art classes and had the opportunity to show off his artistic abilities by designing covers for his company’s employee magazine. Two of his children are deceased and Frank passed away in 2019 after 68 years of marriage.

For Ryan, finding beauty in nature and creating art to reflect it is something that makes her happy.

I achieved my goal, I think. I feel successful,” she noted. “(I want to show people) how much beauty there is in the world. There is so much. You turn on the TV and see all these crazy medical commercials, things like that.

“All is not as happy as I would like. I wish the world was happier.

Ryan has exhibited his work at the Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown, the Hawthorne Gallery and Frame Shop, the South Jersey Center for the Arts, and other locations.

His current exhibit will be at the Cherry Hill Library until August 31. Prints of the coins are also for sale.

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