ArtsKC First Fridays Upcoming Exhibitions:

In person events postponed until further notice.

In support of city and national efforts to contain the Corona Virus, the ArtsKC Gallery is closed to the public. To learn more about our current Artist-In-Residence, visit:  And check out our social channels, facebook, twitter and instagram to view the works of Ryan Wilks progress in the gallery as our first Artist-In-Residence.


Ryan Wilks

“I plan to respond to the world around me in this residency. I’ll be making large scale work as well as small pieces in the ArtsKC space directly related to human connection as it shifts and yearns to be held like it was before Covid-19. We are reaching out from 6 feet apart and there is a sadness and resilience in that reaching. During my residency at ArtsKC I’ll be making work that explores that reaching, and I’ll be sharing the development of the work as part of my own reaching out”

June 2 – July 17, 2020

About the Artist:

Ryan Wilks is a self-taught artist based in Kansas City, Missouri. His work explores the various realities of queer existence. Primarily creating with oils, watercolors, sculptural assemblage, and ritual, his work sheds light on queer expression of spirituality and sexuality. His bodies of work address and confront religion used as weapon and explores new modes of prayer through visual and participatory exhibitions. While religious and archetypal iconography such as the Devil and Lilith are seen within his figures in his paintings and used to express gender and queer ideologies, the work itself does not adopt the feeling of weighted religious rites. Instead, his work invites the viewer to participate in a modernized expression of spirit.

Artist Statement:

Through figurative and narrative drawing and painting, through community-based performance ritual and ceremony, I make art that explores the various realities of queer existence. Gleaning inspiration from centuries old religious iconography and the oral and written histories documenting the queer experience from the beginning of time to my own personal experience today, my work strives to depict the push/pull, persecute/elevate relationships of humanity, sexuality, and spirituality.

The use of more traditional materials and methods in my painting and drawing is an intentional nod to Italian masters such as Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael, but it is the playfulness of Matisse’s figures and the contorting figures of Schiele that have influenced my work the most. Both express a sense of movement that can be seen in not only my 2-D work, but also in the movement displayed in my performance-based ritual and ceremony. Bodies of work such as Henry Darger’s, and his self-made systems of narrative combined with his self-taught execution of these stories are affirmations to my own work.

Ritual and ceremonial performance is an integral aspect of my art. The use of objects, both found and made, and base elemental ingredients in occult practices are key components to my performances. Through movement, through ceremony, through studied and adaptive ritual, I am able to engage an audience and create moments of sacred memory. My performance work is created and displayed in tandem with my 2-D work and further explores concepts displayed within my paintings and drawings.

Through these methods of creating, engagement, and display of my art, I strive to express the personal narrative of my queer experience, of my peers’, of those who have passed, and, ultimately, for future generations to research, decode, confront, and enjoy.

For more information about the artist, visit