Erin Riley

The term ‘selfie’ doesn’t actually mean ‘self portrait’ … it is a photo taken by oneself, usually with a mobile phone.  To quote Wikipedia, “they are usually flattering and made to appear casual. Most selfies are taken with a camera held at arm’s length or pointed at a mirror, rather than by using a self-timer.”

These days many of us take ‘selfies’ (and yes, I’m admitting to that myself!), but the term was originally coined to describe young girls taking photos for fledgling social media sites such as MySpace, often pouting (that’s called ‘duckface’ for the uninitiated!), and sometimes in rather compromising positions … and this is what is one of the inspirations for Erin’s work.

Erin Riley - 'Nudes 9', 2013,, 42" x 38", Wool, Cotton

Erin Riley – ‘Nudes 9’, 2013,, 42″ x 38″, Wool, Cotton

Erin started creating her pieces by collecting images found on social media sites, such as Tumblr, Google images, etc. – as she mentions in her Artist Statement, “I am drawn to the images taken for private exchanges that become littered on the internet”.  The point being that these images are being uploaded without any clue (or care) about who will end up looking at them.

More recently, she has been using her own personal “images that I have sent to lovers”, and this gives an extra dimension to her body of work – she is identifying herself with the young girls, telling us that she herself is not immune from sending photographs without a thought to where they may end up.

Erin Riley - 'Purple Panties', 2014, 48" x 35", Wool and Cotton

Erin Riley – ‘Purple Panties’, 2014, 48″ x 35″, Wool and Cotton

I also find it interesting when she includes backgrounds of bedrooms that are still rather childish – most of the subjects are in that stage between childhood and adulthood, which is quite touching (and possibly a bit scary if you are a parent!).

Erin Riley - 'Nudes 17', 2014, 48" x 45", Wool and Cotton

Erin Riley – ‘Nudes 17’, 2014, 48″ x 45″, Wool and Cotton

Erin working at her loom

Erin working at her loom

What I love about Erin’s work – apart from the fact that it is cutting edge art – is that she has chosen to weave images that were taken without much thought, using a medium that is very slow and traditional.

Her body of work is so impressive, I am very excited to see what else she comes up with!


(by Michelle Driver)


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