OXFORD – Recently in Oxford at their annual kick-off wrestling tournament – The Clyde Cole – a local wrestling star and nationally renowned artist stopped in for a visit back home.
“Not everyone can be a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere,” said Ryan Warner quoting the children's movie Ratatouille.
Ryan Warner is an Oxford alum who graduated from Oxford Academy in 1989, to which he then pursued his dream of becoming an artist. The struggle with his realized dream was that he played sports all through high school – a contrasting lifestyle.
Warner graduated from Munson William Proctor Institute of Art, but was not immediately welcomed with open arms during his initial art portfolio due to his background in the sporting world.
“So when I tried getting in I got shot down by who I consider to be the Simon Cowell of art review. He shot me down, told me what I needed to do and what I needed to improve on. I had seven days and I returned and showed him kind of what I was made of. It was funny though because he made me feel inferior because I was an athlete and was wearing my football jersey,” said Warner. “The best part was when this guy was ripping me apart, what really turned the page is when I had had enough and I just thought I was being discarded. I called him out, 'you know who you remind me of is my football coach.' If I'm not fast enough you’ll pick on me for being slow, so for someone who hates athletes and sports you act a lot like a coach. Treat me like an athlete, I’ll be an athlete of art.' I went to my final portfolio review, he asked me why I thought I deserved it over the other 300 kids. I turned around and everyone had pink hair and they were wearing black. I realized I was the only one with a football jersey still on, so that is what I told him.”
Fast forward to 2016, and Warner has been creating art all up and down the east coast with a five year stop in Miami painting murals, while also being featured on National Geographic's 'Building Wild'.
“When I went to college, I felt like I almost had to be ashamed that I was from a small town, until I realized that you can be from anywhere,” said Warner. “My whole thing now is I just want to expose Oxford to a higher caliber of art. That way when they (students) go out into the world they aren’t seeing it for the first time.”