The colorful, artistic story of Moira Dryer


Courtesy of Amelia Bergeron

Amelia Bergeron

In a white-painted room hangs rectangular pieces of bold and spectacular color. The art ranges from abstract to patterned, but the strong use of color variation remains constant. Moira Dryer’s artistic expression in Back in Business at the Phillips Collection calms and provokes questions in the viewer.

The exhibit, which is free for students, sits on the first floor of the museum, directly to the right of the main entrance. The two walls adjacent to the wooden stairs that lead down to the gallery each display a Dryer painting. The exhibit consists of a central pillar and a gallery that seems vaster as a result of the depth in the art.

Dryer graduated from the School of Visual Art in New York in 1980. While attending, she contributed to the city’s artistic expression with her work showcased in galleries and art shows. She worked as a set designer for Mabou Mines before becoming a full-time painter. She died from cancer at 34 in 1992, but her art lives on in collections nationwide.

Dryer’s art establishes a relatively cheerful tone, but also leaves the viewer wondering about her thought process. On display is a sculpture called “NBC Nightly News,” created using casein paint on metal, wood, and rubber. The art catches the viewer’s eye with its vibrant green color and abstractness. Another striking piece in the main gallery is “The Signature Painting.” This artwork, made solely of casein on wood, uses growing rectangles to create a sense of three-dimensional burnt orange depth.

In the center of the gallery is a long, glass display case that houses all of Dryer’s notes, in her penmanship, about her artistic process and postcards that she used for inspiration. Dryer frequently found her inspiration for her titles from newspapers and magazines. The title of the new exhibit follows suit, found in a clipping she put in a notebook that is now on display.

As it is only two rooms, the exhibit only houses 22 pieces of Dryer’s art, but it’s enough to start to understand her artistic style and choice of expression. The paintings are unique because they describe events that the viewer must rely on their imagination to understand. Even though the exhibit is small, once you are in, you experience the artistic story of Dreyer.