NARRAGANSETT — For as long as Ryan Maguire can remember, he has wanted to try everything – nothing is off the table. So, it only makes sense that he carries this uninhibited attitude into his artwork.
As he got older, Maguire began to see the value in the work he was doing. With every project, he’d take an idea and do anything he could creatively to execute it.
But it wasn’t until graduate school that Maguire started to understand what he truly loved about his art and what he could do with it.
“What I didn’t realize until now is that I like to tell stories through the art,” Maguire said. “Going through graduate school helped me realize that you could do all [sorts of] things. You don’t have to just do commercial work; you don’t have to just do sub-culture underground stuff. You have to figure out who you are. When you figure that out, a lot of the work comes totally natural.”
Maguire’s collection of prints and mixed-media art is on display through Jan. 13 in an exhibit entitled MADink at OneWay Gallery, 140 Boon St., Narragansett. Some work featured in the exhibit includes: graduate school work, high velocity art and a “Legends of Hope” series, which is debuting in this show.
Maguire earned a master’s of fine art in illustration in 2012 from the University of Hartford, in Hartford, Conn. As part of his thesis work, Maguire spent two years studying and developing ideas to raise awareness for various topics. In his “Legends of Hope” series, each drawing represents a spirit, resembling a monster, that protects certain areas. Being a native Rhode Islander, Maguire wanted to tie the state into his artwork, so the spirits protect different Rhode Island areas, like Sachuest Point.
“They’re trying to serve and protect these areas from development or pollution. I think it’s using illustration to raise some awareness,” he said.
While in school, the ad agency Small Army asked Maguire to illustrate Be Bold, Be Bald!, a national fundraising event where anyone can wear bald cap for a day on the third Friday in October to honor cancer survivors. One of Maguire’s designs was used on a billboard in Boston. The outdoor design won a merit award at the 2013 Boston Hatch Awards. The awards, which recognize individuals who achieve excellence, are run by The Ad Club, a trade organization for marketing, advertising and communications in New England.
The unique pieces that command attention in Maguire’s exhibit are digital collages, which were named “high velocity art” by his fellow graduate students. He considers the illustration its own genre. Most of this work is of professional athletes – Tom Brady, David Ortiz and Rob Gronkowski – and a few were used as covers for DigBoston magazine.
Maguire said people thought the collages “looked weird,” because each picture is a combination of hundreds of images, which tricks the eye into thinking the image is animated.
But that’s just how all of Maguire’s work looks – dynamic, expressive, non-stop.
“I would do all these crazy line drawings. I think that’s just how my mind works,” Maguire said.
For much of his work, Maguire enjoys working on location. He is inspired by the people, places and things around him. With just a sketchbook and ink, Maguire quickly created several sketches of scenes like Occupy Boston, the 2012 Boston Marathon finish line and the research vessel Endeavor at the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus in Narragansett.
“Drawing on location and just talking to someone, it just gives so much value to [the art],” Maguire said. “It’s made awesome work.”
For the last year, Maguire has been teaching graphic design at the Community College of Rhode Island Newport campus; he teaches from his own experience on the creative process and how to position oneself.
But with the definition of art constantly changing with time and technology, Maguire feels he learns as much from his students as they do from him.
“I think one thing that students teach me is to embrace what is here because it’s not going to go anywhere,” he said.
A few months ago, Maguire opened a studio and small gallery space, MADInk in Saunderstown, where he hopes to mentor and collaborate with other artists, showcase and sell his work, and work on projects.
“Imagined if I said, ‘No’?,” Maguire posed to himself about his billboard design. “I think a lot of my art work is in the moment. There’s nothing worse than a missed opportunity. How things line up, you just have to pay attention to them and keep it rolling.”
Through Jan. 14
Wednesday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
140 Boon St., Narragansett
MADInk (studio and gallery)
4 Ferry Road, Saunderstown
Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment