Sarah: Ryan and I have been friends since freshman year. I remember wandering down from third floor Davis into his room and asking him about all his posters and artwork. Over four years, I've learned that his favorite color is a precise mix of a certain blue and a certain grey, that he doesn't have any half-hearted cares, and that he doesn't mind if you sneak into his house and sleep on his sofa when you've locked yourself out of your car and your apartment. 

Sarah: If you could be any kind of tree, what would it be and why?
Ryan If I could be any kind of tree, I would be an oak tree. I’d be one of those huge-trunk oak trees with limbs that dip down into the ground and then come back up again to spread out thick, leafy fingers.  It will look like it’s been there forever, rooted eternally to the earth. MY tree will be the tree that kids climb all over. Adults will take pictures on it, hoping to invoke some of its ancient magic to keep the ones in their arms forever close to them. 

Sarah: Where would the tree live, and what kind of birds would live in it? 
Ryan I’d plant myself on a hill in a valley that overlooks the fork of a dawdling river. You could only get to me by a short, well-worn dirt path that quietly takes you through the mountains. I’d be the home for an old, sleepy family of owls that take kindly to strangers. 

Sarah: Of Ryan's artwork (link to his website below), "The Bear" print series is one of my favorites. I also love "Midnight," "Byzantine," and "The Deep" in his senior thesis work. Ryan's work with color doesn't really make sense to me. I don't understand how he chooses the colors or what it means to him to arrange them. Still, I like wondering about how his choices are intentional and how he knows beauty that way, and how that must be part of his wisdom when he talks about how he really thinks every song is about love, or one of his poems is particularly sharp and calming. The favorite paintings are ones I can stare at for a while. I like wondering about how the colors move across the canvas, how the image comes together whether I'm standing really close, or far away. http://ryanpainter.com

(photo of back campus by Ryan Johnson)