Thursday Salute to Originals: Festering Stone

Precious gemstones coat massive fruit sculptures in moldy designs.

New York-based artist Kathleen Ryan has a talent for finding beauty in uncommon places. This is especially apparent in her latest sculpture work — a series of oversized fruit sculptures encrusted in mold and fungal decay.

The unusual subject highlights the beauty in the grotesque. Using beautiful, illustrious materials like precious and semi-precious gemstones, Ryan transforms a mushy lemon, rotting cherries, and a decomposing jack-o’-lantern into ornate studies of texture and color. 

Each sculpture challenges societal notions of value, raising questions about what significance our gut assessments of objects and possessions really carry. Are shiny stones inherently more precious than the fungi that nourish the soil? Would we consider stinky, rotten fruit valuable if it could be traded like precious gems?

Beyond a striking visual statement, the composition of each piece is a beautiful display of mineral beauty. Dozens of stones including jasper, moonstone, and turquoise are meticulously shaped and arranged to mimic the organic patterns of mold and fungus, yet the alluring colors and textures they naturally possess remain, integrated into the gross theme.

This Thursday, we’re saluting Kathleen Ryan and her festering stone fruits. These sculptures were part of a series at Karma in New York this past June. You can see the artist’s current work on Instagram.

Sources: Kathleen Ryan, This is Colossal