Tapestries
for the
21st century

American artist and tapestry weaver with a sensitivity for the private and the political. No unicorns, knights or fair ladies in these works. Think social media, selfies, pornhubs and other signs of the internet age.

The embroidered selfie-portrait: yes, this is a selfie carefully rendered to knitting canvas

Is your work political, erotic or personal?

My work is feminist from my specific perspective so I would say it is politically personal.

Have you noticed which works get the most attention at shows or online?

I have been working in three different themes for most of my career and they all get equal attention actually. It depends on the audience obviously, but each series gets pretty equal attention from viewers. The new work that I am making using porn references has been popular but I think that is due to the scale I am finally working in.

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How important is humor to your work?

Not important at all actually. In grad school we had a writing assignment for a sculpture seminar class; write a poem, write a story, write a sonnet, write a joke. I was eternally stuck on write a joke. While I do now find a lot of humor in day to day life, I inject no humor into my work, I take it pretty seriously.

When you work do you listen to music? Is there an audio analogy to your work — a style, a musician, a song?

I listen to podcasts, tv shows, documentaries, I rarely listen to music because I find that my brain starts going off on tangents and I can't focus. I think too much and weaving, and music perpetuates that.

Working with found images do you copy the still frames and photographs by drawing or print them out to start weaving?

I work with a cartoon, which is basically a simple line drawing or a crude printout of the image I am working from. It allows for scale to be considered and then I fill in the details.

Why did you turn to pornograhy as a source of imagery? You said in an interview that you were interested in "how pornography influences sexuality". Any conclusions so far?

I had been collecting source imagery of the moment of my climax after watching porn on my phone and masturbating. Eventually I had accumulated a years worth of those screenshots and started organizing them and weaving them. Porn is where most teens are seeing sex for the first time. I saw my first erection through porn, I felt my attraction towards women, I learned that I could shave my pubic hair through porn, it also exists in a capitalistic society, so it has to continually hold people's attention, therefore there are trends adn this is reflected in the kinds of sex people are having.

Will humanity ever stop producing erotic imagery?

No way. If it feels good, do it. (with consent of course)

Erin M. Riley and Lucien Shapiro's exhibition “Anew” will open at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco on 3.03.2016

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