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Erin M. Riley is a fiber artist who makes powerful large-scale tapestries using a centuries-old hand-weaving process with hand-dyed wool on a floor loom and depicting the complex spectrum of female sexuality–from excitement and fear to pleasure and pain. Derived from personal photography, found photographs sourced from the internet, and still lifes, Riley’s imagery explores the innate difficulty of womanhood, objectification of the female body, and traumas both large and small that weigh on the search for self-identity. Her work is partially autobiographical, an aspect of her practice that she sees as essential to process a personal family history of sexual assault and violence, and helping others feel less alone in these experiences. Each tapestry is an extension of the self, a warm hand of welcome and embrace that becomes a bridge between herself and those who have their own stories to tell, safe in the knowledge that there are safe spaces for conversation around trauma and healing that are both visible yet private, expansive yet discreet–a place where we discover are not alone in our joys and our grief.
Riley was born in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and lives and works in Brooklyn. She received her BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, and her MFA from the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Riley’s work has been exhibited nationally at Guerrero Gallery in San Francisco, California, Space 1026 Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sky High Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn, New York and internationally at MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom and Town Hall Gallery in Hawthorn, Victoria in Australia. She has been an artist in residence at Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, McColl Center for Visual Arts and Emmanuel College. erinmriley.com