Thursday, October 21, 2010

Enter at Your Own Risk...

The premiere exhibition of Arcanifacts is on view through November 1st at the River Edge Library, 685 Elm Avenue in River Edge, NJ.

Twenty-one pieces of the bizarre, the unusual, the arcane, and phantasmagorical await...

Don't miss it, for once the sun sets on All Soul's Day, they disappear...

See pictures from and read an article on the exhibition below:


River Edge Library Exhibit Inspired by Fictional Characters
Town News

At first glance, the meticulously collected objects arranged in antique glass bottles look like specimens in a mad scientist's laboratory rather than an art show. But upon further inspection, visitors to the River Edge Library, where the exhibit, "Arcanifacts," will be on display until the end of the month, will discover that each piece draws the viewer into a mythical world through its creative assemblage of pictures and found objects.

"Arcanifacts" is a collection of 21 works taken from a larger project River Edge resident Scot Ryersson began in 2007. Ryersson said he invented the term from the Latin words arcanus (secret) and factum (thing made) to describe an artifact containing both mystery and truth.

Most of the pieces are inspired by fictional characters from short stories, novels and folklore that captured Ryersson's imagination.

"It started off as the idea of found objects of fictional characters, like shards from the Mad Hatter's tea cup." he said. "It was almost the idea of proving that fictional characters were real."

The pieces range from a collection of rotting antique lace, a broken porcelain cherub head, and a wedding ring on a string, evoking the heartbreak of Charles Dickens' Miss Havisham, who was famously jilted on her wedding day in "Great Expectations," to Sweeney Todd's shaving brush and an antique diagram of the arteries of the neck. Visitors will be given a program identifying each object on display and a bibliography of the works that inspired the pieces.

While most are based on fictional characters, at least two have been inspired by real people. Lizzie Borden's hatchet is the focal point of one piece, and another work draws its inspiration from the mid-20th century story of the Collyer brothers, two of the original "hoarders," found dead in their Fifth Avenue apartment surrounded by more than 130 tons of old newspapers and decades of collected trash.

Ryersson estimates that he has made about 70 of these pieces and said he was surprised by how much people seemed to like what had been originally something purely for his own amusement.

"They are really strange … People don't quite know what to make of them right away, but then they really get into them," he said. "They've never crawled out of the house before, except for commissions. This is the first time they've been released upon the general public."

When he initially approached the library, Ryersson was wary that the exhibit might be too weird for display. He said a few of the librarians looked "stunned" at what was coming out of the boxes he had packed. But with Halloween just around the corner and the pieces' literary connections, the exhibit has found a fitting home.

Ryersson's interest in the macabre has long bled into his work. Before creating Arcanifacts, he designed movie posters for about 15 years, including ones for "The Silence of the Lambs," "Ghost," and "Witness." His work on "Evil Under the Sun" and "Another Country" each garnered him an Art Directors of London Award. He stopped working in the film industry after studios began using digital images instead of art to sell their product.

In 1999, Ryersson co-authored a biography of the Marchesa Casati, an eccentric Italian celebrity in the early 20th century, with Michael Orlando Yaccarino. The book, "Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati," has been adapted into a play and the fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld and John Galliano have each based collections on Casati. Most recently, an illustrated version of the biography was released by the art book publisher Abrams.

To learn more about Ryersson and his work, visit He accepts private commissions and can be contacted via e-mail at

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