Shocking Woven Tapestries Expose Sex, Violence, and Death in America
Erin M. Riley’s new exhibition threads a fascinating look at the modern world.
Portrait of a father, an intricately handwoven tapestry, depicts a white semi-truck wrapped around a telephone pole on the side of the freeway. The white text in the upper left-hand corner, composed to look like closed captioning, reads, "You don't deserve my forgiveness." This is just one of the textiles in fiber artist Erin M. Riley's new exhibition, Simple, at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco. In this composition, the truck is being used as a metaphor for "how sexual violence knocks us off our axis," according to the artist. The goal of the work is to force the viewer to consider the implicit aggression women face every day in our society. The large-scale dimensions of her textiles force a confrontation between the viewer and issues normally deemed taboo in our society.
Hashimoto Contemporary describes Simple as a culmination of her previous bodies of work, like her Nudes series of woven selfies. As the internet becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives, Riley feels that, "Intimacy is blurred, bodies exist in this surreal way, and sexuality is abstract." In this increasingly fleeting digital world, Riley's work seeks to physically memorialize moments that exist in digital life, from screenshots of text messages to stills grabbed from pornography.
"These are the moments we prepare ourselves for with self-defense mechanisms and paranoia," the artist writes. "I am trying to evolve from these moments but also want to acknowledge them so as not to live in denial or make people feel like they are alone." Much like fellow embroidery artist Hannah Hill, Riley is empowering what is historically considered 'women's work,' and demonstrating what it really is: a high art form.
Check out some more works from the show below:
Check out more work by Erin M. Riley on her website.