Born 1977 in Wareham, MA.
In 1999 Riley received BFA in Painting from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. In 2004 he received an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Pennsylvania.
His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions throughout the Northeast including;Danese/Corey in New York City, TSA NY in Brooklyn, NY, Gallery 263 in Cambridge, MA, Lamont Gallery in Exeter, NH, Arthur Ross Gallery in Philadelphia, PA, The Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY, and several others. He has received grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and the Berkshire Taconic Foundation. Riley has been an artist in residence at the Joan Mitchell Center, Yaddo, and the Vermont Studio Center.
Riley currently lives in Rome, Italy.
My work is aimed at creating visually compelling objects and images that open up a slow, quiet space for the contemplative reading of material histories and the creative process. My work aspires to be an offering of visual insight towards a progression of our existential awareness.
Recent work in textiles has been informed by an on-going rigorous material and conceptual engagement with abstraction in painting and drawing. All of my textile work uses clothing that I inherited from my father after his passing. This emotionally charged and finite material brings a heightened awareness to my approach and intention for the work I create with them.
After an in-depth study of weaving techniques and histories, I developed my own technique for (de)Weaving inherited denim blue jeans. By methodically removing individual weft threads from the weave, I have been able to expose and manipulate the structure of the fabric and open up space between the delicate threads of a once tough and rigid material. In this process many layers of time and memory that are embedded in the denim become revealed so that my labor acknowledges not just my father’s labor but also that of the workers involved in the industrial production process of the denim itself.
In the pursuit of using my inherited denim to speak about loss and the nature of memory, I have been exploring the potential significance material can possess and also the ways in which we as humans embed our own personal narratives into objects, wittingly or not. My latest work using natural indigo to dye fragile paper speaks to how indigo, renowned for its depth, mystery, and beauty as a dye has a profoundly troubling history involving slavery. The resulting works of dyed paper exist as fragments of their original whole. The textures, shapes, and colors absorbed by the paper become the historical evidence of the works creation and simultaneous destruction. Making sense of such a duality by working with select materials and using the formal elements of visual art is at the philosophical heart of my work.