Photo by Dionne Smith, Director of Photography


“Mermaid” by Ryder Kallweit

By Alyson Peabody, News Editor

Hanging at the far end of a white wall is a blue cubist woman almost indistinguishable from the grey and black shapes that surround her. She is both swimming in the geometric cohesion and sinking by the weight of each shape meant to form her naked body. Beside the frame is a tag that reads “Mermaid by Ryder Kallweit.”

Kallweit’s painting, inspired by a Russian cubist, is hung in the Woodbury Campus Center as a part of his first Juried Student Art Show exhibition at USM.

After two years of cross-country exploring, Kallweit joined the USM community in the 2018 fall semester as an incoming freshman studying photography and digital media. Kallweit believed that the art department would be a good way to invest time in himself, his art and the development of his artistic practice.

“I’ve been creating some really cool pieces and seeing my technique get more refined. It’s really interesting to see my own development and to have other people, like my family, see my progress,” Kallweit said.

His creativity can be partly attributed to his father who is also an artist and musician. His father’s cartoon aesthetic and characters appeared in billiards. Kallweit has a black t-shirt with one of his father’s illustrations on it in white ink.

Example of Ryder Kallweit’s work

“I love this grotesque shirt. People do double takes at it. It’s super simple but also complex at the same time,” he said.

Like his father, he has experience making custom t-shirts by creating stencils and using fabric paint to transfer his designs.

His grandmother has a masters degree in art history. Additionally, she had a business called Playmill that was all about making wooden toys for kids. “She did all the designs for it and my grandfather would carve them,” Kallweit said.

Kallweit’s creative ambitions are diverse, encompassing music, drawing, painting, film, photography and digital media.

“In high school, I was really into music production,” he said. “After high school, there was some time when I started really getting into visual arts. I wanted to invest a lot of my effort into art … I wanted to see where I could go with it.”

He said he loved producing beats and visuals to pair with music. A method he uses when editing music videos is called datamoshing, which is the manipulation of the code in a video.

“This is done by deleting frames and duplicating frames in order to have the code break itself,” said Kallweit. “This creates an internal glitch effect. You see it happen in a lot of hip-hop videos.”

On his personal website, Kallweit has a range of digital artwork that includes animations, wiggle gifs, stills and datamoshing created in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

“There are so many memories on here,” said Kallweit, when scrolling through his website. “Some of these are years old.”

He datamoshed a segment of a music video of his rapper cousin who has two names: Lank Papi and gradysoblue. He shared a gif he made from overlapping animation with a Kendrick Lamar music video.

To create a wiggle gif, he uses a Nishika camera that specializes in taking four different pictures at one time. For stills, he experiments with a film camera that can expose half of a frame on top of another frame to create two overlaying images in one photograph.

Rebecca Goodale, a USM art professor, inspired Kallweit during his first semester in college. “It was my first semester ever. I had two years off from high school. I hated high school.”

Goodale teaches 2D design, which was one of the first art classes Kallweit took when he came to USM. He reflected on how much he enjoyed her method of teaching. She was able to liven up a mandatory design work class by using her own “little tips and tricks” alongside “positive reinforcement, like a Bob Ross energy.” He said that class inspired him to do more design work and shaped he could “start building the foundation of a studio practice.”

Kallweit is currently enrolled in Digital Art 222, Sculpture and Art History II.

Kallweit will be completing a week-long painting artist residency this summer in Monson, Maine, a week before his twenty-first birthday.


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