Our First Mirrix Looms Ambassador: Erin Riley
The Mirrix Looms Ambassador program hopes to unite Mirrix Looms (both the company and the products) with talented bead and tapestry weavers from around the world. By connecting these gifted artists, quality weaving equipment and the networks of both, the hope is to simultaneously increase awareness of each ambassador and of Mirrix products.
Each ambassador will have a unique role, but you can expect instructional blog posts, project ebooks, inspiration and more from these amazing artists.
Today, we are very excited to introduce our first Mirrix Looms Ambassador, Erin Riley. We have admired her artwork for quite some time and can’t wait to work with her in the coming months. Below is our introduction interview with Erin. Enjoy!
You have a BFA and an MFA, did you discover tapestry in art school or before then?
I discovered tapestry and looms in college. I had no idea anything like it existed until then!
Some of your pieces tackle controversial subjects or include images that may be objectionable to some, how have you found people react to these works?
I have varying responses to my work, young people are very used to the images I work with but I understand some people might be offended. As a woman I am trying to challenge society’s view of how girls “should” behave and talk about subjects that might be aggressive or controversial. My work is about my truth, it may be objectionable to some but I can’t deny the visual world I exist in.
During your formal art training did you feel that tapestry was accepted as an art form equal to, let’s say, oil painting or did it seem to have lesser status?
Yes I would say so as long as I stood behind it. If I wavered people fought me on the choice quite a bit.
Much of your work melds modern subjects with the traditional craft of tapestry. How has your being a young weaver shaped your work?
As a weaver who started in her late teens, I am using subject matter that is relevant to my life. It’s a natural progression due to my personal interests and obsessions.
One of the goals of Mirrix’s Ambassador Program is to highlight weavers who can inspire those unaware (or under-aware) of the craft of tapestry. How do you feel you have inspired new tapestry weavers?
Tapestry weaving, much like any craft with a long history, is held to a very high standard to those most invested. I spent 6 years pursuing this craft in college/grad school (and 6 years since) I am fully invested in tapestry but it hasn’t been easy to convince other weavers that I should be accepted. I fully respect the work that is involved in weaving but I do not wish to alienate young weavers who are trying new things with the craft. Experimentation is crucial for people to really understand how much work goes into a piece of tapestry. I, just like the weavers who came before me, have to accept that people will use our medium differently than us, but it doesn’t negate our work. I hope to open up the visual ideas of what is capable with a medium that is so amazing.
How important is it for you to work in tapestry? Is it something yo can see shifting over time or do you feel that you’ve found your visual voice with tapestry?
People always ask me “why do you weave these images rather than paint them” I have never read an interview with a painter in which their medium is questioned and I hope to change the conversation around my medium by challenging the viewers perception of “craft”. As if it is a hobbie or not thought of seriously. My visual language is tapestry, I don’t have any plans to change yet!
Do you ever mix media when you weave?
I have in the past before my weaving abilities were where they are now I used to collage in photo elements to add detail. I also dipped my tapestries in tar, wood stain, polyeurethane and various building materials. I once wove with yarn that was still dripping wet with paint. That was fun!
How many hours do you spend at the loom a day?
During an exhibition deadline I generally spend 12-14 hours a day weaving. 14 is my absolute max, my body doesn’t do much more.
At any given time, how many pieces are you normally working on?
I have a hard time jumping back and forth so I generally work on one start to finish. I also do this so I don’t run out of colors or dye lots in specific pieces.
Where do you find your materials: warp and weft? For example, do you dye your yarn or spin it?
I dye most of my yarn, I buy natural/white and some colors of wool off of eBay primarily. Sometimes I get odd lots donated or purchased from local yarn shops.
Want to learn more about Erin? Click here to visit her website*.
*Note: Some of Erin’s work tackles subjects that may make some people uncomfortable. We will not publish anything that is not suitable for all ages on our website or blog, but be aware of this when visiting Erin’s website or searching for her work elsewhere.