Michael Ryan’s series of huge ‘class portraits’,some as wide as 23 feet, depict random classes of schoolchildren from early last century. Taken from a series of antique black and white photographs and rendered with paint, graphite, charcoal and ink, he has brought each of these children back to life. Each character is full and real and each speaks of a time long past. The finesse and charm of his renderings seem so naturally and effortlessly achieved that they leave the viewer defenseless to the wonder of these children. These images, on such a grand scale would be overwhelmingly melancholy if they were not so perfectly hewn as to make the timeless.