Ryan Cooley

UMass Dartmouth 2021 MFA Thesis Exhibition

Ryan Cooley process image

About Ryan Cooley

Ryan Cooley has interests as diverse as the places he’s lived—which spans three continents and 10 U.S. states. After getting a BA in Organizational Communications, he pursued his love of languages and culture. He added a fourth and fifth language and an AA in Persian Studies to his repertoire by working as a translator and analyst for the Air Force and NSA. After the military, Ryan started an independent jewelry company with his wife, but quickly realized he loved metal itself as much as making jewelry. His work blends techniques from multiple cultures that range from ancient to modern. He uses metal to show insights he has gained learning about people for so many years.


My work is inspired by the marks that trauma leaves on people. Everyone experiences life in their own way, and there’s no objective way to calculate the amount of damage events can do to people, but you can see what’s left when the trauma passes. Most of us find ways to carry on with varying degrees of functionality, but I have never met anyone who hasn’t been shaped by some form of trauma. I use vessels to embody the metaphorical effects of trauma and how they form and deform the persona we present to—or hide from—the world.



Departments College of Visual Performing Arts, Date: Year 2021, Degree Type MFA, Gallery Exhibitions, Gallery University Art Gallery