Myra Ryan sheds light on artistic process

Porch Club member’s abstract work is on display at Palmyra Cove Nature Park

Myra Ryan has had her art displayed in many galleries across the U.S. and in other countries. Her mixed-media art is currently on display at the Palmyra Cove Nature Park until the end of August. (Sean Devlin/The Sun)

The Sun

Tucked to the side of the tolls leading to the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge sits the Palmyra Cove Nature Park.

Next to butterfly gardens and the beaches of the Delaware River, the park’s exhibit hall is home to the work of a different Delaware Valley artist each month. Since late July and through August, the abstract work of Myra Ryan of Riverton is on display.

While any art comes with an open door to subjectivity, Ryan said part of what motivates her to craft abstract pieces is the availability the style affords viewers to unleash their full imagination.

“I want the viewers to interact with them and get from it whatever they get from it,” she said.

Many of the pieces currently on display utilize acrylic paints, collage papers, painted papers, shreds of music and train tickets — all inviting people to look, consider and accept what their mind sees.

Ryan worked with individuals with disabilities for 35 years, including time spent as the executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey. Now, retired from that life, she is a full-time artist.

“I did that to put bread on the table and did art all my life,” she said.

Her artwork has hung from the walls of numerous exhibits throughout the years, including in locations such as Philadelphia, New York, France, Australia, England and Sweden.

Her journey into abstract art began about 15 years ago and she finds the process more difficult than crafting representational art.

“I can only speak for myself,” Ryan said.

Ryan said before she delved into abstract art, she didn’t necessarily enjoy other pieces in that category, although was intrigued by the process.

Now, having crafted numerous pieces, she said, for her, the journey of creating abstract art is “pure emotion.”

She also said that rarely does she start with a concept, but rather starts with a particular color or shape she finds intriguing in that moment.

“It is what just comes out and not trying to copy something else,” she said.

With the eye of an artist she said the best advice for someone who may be afraid or unsure of abstract art is to approach everything with an open mind.

“If you find it scary, try to understand it from the perspective of color or materials. Ask questions of the artists,” she said.

She also mentioned that, when considering purchasing a piece of art, people should note what catches their eye and then continue to look at other pieces and see if they gravitate back to anything.

She stressed that when someone is buying a piece of art they are “buying something to live with and enjoy.”

Ryan also encourages others to pursue artistic endeavors.

“Do not be afraid of making art. You don’t have to know how to draw. It’s not about the finished product. It is about the process,” she said.

Along with being a member of multiple boards and associations, including The Porch Club of Riverton, Artists’ Circle, Willingboro Art Alliance and more, she is also the recipient of many awards for her work.

To learn more about the Palmyra Cove Nature Park and information about upcoming exhibits, visit

For more information about Ryan, visit and