“comfortable in my skin”


It’s rare for fibre arts to make you feel slightly {or very} uncomfortable, but that’s exactly what these beautifully woven tapestries do. I wrote about her for the first time in 2011, and five years later I finally get to talk to Brooklyn based artist Erin M. Riley… I had A LOT of questions for this very thoughtful, smart, and ridiculously talented woman. The combination of her chosen medium, and her subject matter is truly brilliant! Now, before we get started, I thought this description from her site was an excellent way to explain her work:

Riley has referenced found images online as well as her own photographs that address sex, social media and feminism. Influenced by the Instagram generation, her subjects have varied from iPhone nude selfies, screenshots of sexual positions and objects of womanhood or sexuality.

Yep, that sets up our conversation perfectly. You can listen right up there under Erin at the loom, or you can subscribe on iTunes. First up, a few of my favorites from her found photo weavings:


Oh girls… don’t do it! Risky behavior and bad decisions captured forever in woven fibre. Amazing. Next up, we touched on some of Erin’s earlier work that revolved around drunk driving:


It’s heartbreaking to think about the stories behind these found images.

Next, all of these pieces are from her “Daddy Issues” series. They’re beautiful, but make you cringe for these girls at the same time:


I love this series so much. I think it’s incredibly powerful and a really interesting way to slow down {literally in Erin’s case} and take a closer look at the fast-paced world of social media. Erin said she’d had some negative feedback on this work – granted, those were faceless comments from the internet – saying that she was “exploiting these women”. That was not her intention at all, so she switched from using found images, to self portraits. Talk about taking control … while being totally vulnerable at the same time. I think these pieces are absolutely stunning, and yes, these are her tattoos:


Gorgeous – even the shaving and tweezing. I absolutely love that she captures those very real moments too, instead of only choosing to document her body when perfect/posed. Again, brilliant and, oh, so vulnerable. I certainly couldn’t take those photos of myself… and then WEAVE them for the next month or two! Yeah, no. Speaking of which, I found these photos of Erin and her loom in action on her Instagram feed:


That final photo was captioned “nipple day” … and yes, it made me LOL as the kids say. And last, a close up of her truck tattoo that came up in the speed round:


We didn’t talk about gum, but how could I not include this photo!? Apparently this was late at night in the studio, the coffee was gone and all she had left was bubble tape. You do what you have to do, am I right?

Thank you so much to Erin for answering all of my questions and for being so open {and for admitting that she too cries like a baby during Grey’s Anatomy}. As always, thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting this episode, and big high fives to you for listening! There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. MassArt {Boston}
  2. Tyler School of Art {Philadelphia}
  3. Grey’s Anatomy
  4. She didn’t mention this! Erin’s showing at Brilliant Champion Gallery in Brooklyn till July 26, 2016


comments (21)

  1. Maria /// 07.09.2016 /// 2:44am

    Her work is brave, furiously contemporary and fascinating. Can’t wait to listen!

  2. the jealous curator /// 07.09.2016 /// 7:29am

    perfect/beautiful description, maria!

  3. Sherry Knutson /// 07.09.2016 /// 10:02am

    Transforming contemporary digital selfies into handcrafted tapestries = excellent concept. The snapshot of female exploration documented in a rich beautiful skillful woven art form steeped in the history of female artists….excellent!!

  4. Kimberly Morelli /// 07.09.2016 /// 10:06am

    I love that you show people that there are so many different mediums in which artists showcase their talent. What beauty to behold in her works! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Amanda Gareis /// 07.09.2016 /// 10:41am

    That was a great, intense interview. The thought/concept/skill/originality/immediacy/timelessness of Erin’s work is so inspiring, and I agree with Kimberly…I was just coming here to say that one of my favourite things about this podcast (okay, all of it is my favourite, but you know) is how you roam the length and breadth of mediums. It’s completely exhilarating to me. I love that work (especially by women artisits) that spans the art/craft divide is getting more attention and I think we really have you to thank for that. It’s really exciting. Thank you for another great episode. Best part of my week.

  6. anthony zinonos /// 07.09.2016 /// 1:03pm

    really interesting listen, thanks for sharing!!

  7. Julie /// 07.10.2016 /// 2:32am

    Fascinating!!! And well done to Erin for sticking to her guns!!! I would be interested in hearing more about the process from photograph to loom but the subject matter is so interesting!

    Another great podcast Danielle and so happy that youre here over the summer too! x

  8. Jen /// 07.10.2016 /// 10:43pm

    This was a brilliant interview and I loved listening to Erin talk about the evolution of and meaning behind her art.

  9. the jealous curator /// 07.11.2016 /// 4:33pm

    me too! i’ve always been so curious about erin’s work… and erin actually! loved every minute of this chat : )

  10. jt /// 07.11.2016 /// 9:39pm

    this is epic

  11. marc cardwell /// 07.14.2016 /// 7:59am

    really good interview.

    i love the move “panic room.” the daughter character (a few young kristin stewart) has type 1 diabetes, my son does also, so i really identify with the mom protecting her. and i’d love to have a secret room of my own.

  12. Pattern Pulp - Friday Quick Links! /// 07.15.2016 /// 2:00pm

    […] years building this cathedral by hand via Colossal 8. . Talking with fibre artist Erin M. Riley via The Jealous Curator 9. Patricia Urquiola’s abstract rugs via design-milk 10. Brooklyn’s Flat Vernacular’s […]

  13. Constance /// 09.30.2016 /// 11:08pm

    I absolutely LOVED this interview. Her work is stunning and so very important. Her statement about how a photo of your body can be used against you is powerful. We women live with so much shame and fear about our bodies. I’m so glad Erin is making this work. Thanks to both of you for a thought provoking episode. (I’m very behind on my listening so sorry for the very very late comment!)

  14. Karyn Hitchman /// 10.07.2016 /// 9:05pm

    Wow! I loved this interview!
    I’m not normally compelled to comment but Erin (what I would have named my son had he been a girl) and her work is beautiful, thoughtful/provoking, and brave. I applaud her, and you Danielle, for sharing it and her story with us.

    PS – you are my “studio bestie” – I think I would go nuts if I didn’t hear your lovely voice. Really looking forward to hearing your new book.

  15. Karyn Hitchman /// 10.07.2016 /// 9:06pm

    PPS – my son’s name is Daniel 😉

  16. janice la verne baker /// 12.29.2016 /// 10:52pm

    really good, my favorite so far because she is so honest about what she is making. the kind of artist i hope i am.

  17. Anton /// 01.12.2017 /// 7:45am


  18. Threads to Bare – Dry Ink /// 02.07.2017 /// 1:58am

    […] Listen and enjoy. […]

  19. Dylan /// 12.01.2017 /// 9:16am

    Amazing. Such beautiful and thoughtful work. I’m inspired. Thanks for the great interview!

  20. Dana Morino /// 07.26.2018 /// 7:29am

    I’ve been working my way through your podcasts. I have many that I have loved listening to, but this one was particularly compelling. Erin’s work is so fabulous and having context gives it even more depth and beauty. I ditto: Erin is a brave, thought provoking artist and I so look forward to seeing more of her work.

  21. Deb Taylor /// 09.14.2018 /// 8:12pm

    I am working my way through the podcasts too. I love the way a medium that was used traditionally to depict narrative images is being used for this contemporary narrative on women’s bodies. So many layers of meaning interwoven (sorry/ I had to) between the process and the subject matter – the first “computers” were punch cards used in weaving, (the Jaquard loom) so there is also this lovely connection between the digital image and the woven image. Plus the Jaquard loom was used (with the punch cards) to weave a portrait of Jaquard himself!!! Love it
    Erin might be interested in checking out a residency at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne.

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