On Being American/Jazz: Ryan Cohan’s “The River” is a special traveling exhibition by Wilmington artist Ellen Priest. Previously shown at Saint Peter’s Church in New York City, The Delaware Contemporary is proud to offer this impressive exhibition to the greater Wilmington area.
Ellen Priest’s grand expression of jazz visually interprets what music does sonically. The River is an hour-long jazz suite composed in 2013 by Chicago pianist and composer Ryan Cohan. This album came about after Cohan and his jazz quartet toured East Africa in 2008. Song titles like Departure and Arrival effectively navigate listeners throughout the experience of their journey along “The River.” Similar to Cohan’s method of navigation, Priest implements a system of multi-layered and superimposed currents of colors that draw the viewer into the sweeping brushstrokes. The interchange between the paint’s opacity and translucence, and the assortment of bright, primary colors present an inescapable sense of happiness and energy that permeate throughout the series. The foundation of both Cohan’s and Priest’s works is an unspoken, universal impulse for joy, discovery, and curiosity that is bound in the human experience.