As part of Art Basel Miami Beach Meridians, P·P·O·W will present questions & answers, 2022, an immense, handwoven tapestry by Erin M. Riley. Throughout her practice, Riley depicts intimate, erotic, and psychologically raw imagery that reflects upon relationships, memories, fantasies, sexual violence, and trauma. Collaging personal photographs, images sourced from the internet, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera to create her compositions, the Brooklyn-based weaver exposes the range of women’s lived experiences. Riley notes, “To see any textile is to experience the journey of the maker.”
questions & answers, Riley’s most monumental work to date, takes the viewer on a tumultuous voyage through childhood memories and their complex impact on both the physical and psychological formation of self-identity. Working on a floor loom, Riley begins each tapestry with a true-to-scale sketch which she affixes to the back of the work to guide her complex compositions. Composed in equal thirds, questions & answers is grounded by a central cartoon drawing of her childhood home. Serving as a portal, the innocent image is nestled within a liquor bottle and birds’ nest, surrounded by offerings from memorials of loss, backdropped by an enlarged door. This central area is flanked on either side by depictions of Riley’s body at various stages of her life, from her first communion dress to her adult nude form, interspersed with text sourced from domestic violence pamphlets and advertisements for feminine hygiene products. Taken together, the elements in questions & answers lay bare the secrets we all grapple with in the struggle for self-actualization. “With work this big,” Riley observes, “I hope that the physical journey will allow for some unraveling of the elements, like a magic eye – seen up close you will catch things, but seen far away you might see more, if you squint just right.”
Erin M. Riley (b. 1985) received her BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art. Her work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at P·P·O·W, New York, NY; Galerie Julien Cadet, Paris, France; Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway; The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY; Gana Art Gallery, Seoul, Korea; among others. Riley is the recipient of a United States Artists Fellowship Grant, 2021 and an American Academy of Arts & Letters Art Purchase Prize, 2021 and has completed residencies at MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH and the Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY. Her work is currently featured in 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; manifesto of fragility, the 16th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art, Lyon France; and Kingdom of the Ill, Museion, Bolzano, Italy.