Want a Taboo Tapestry? Erin M. Riley’s Got You Covered

by Mary Grace Garis

Yes, your eyes don’t deceive you: that’s a tapestry of a vibrator. And it’s just one of the risqué pieces that Philadelphia-based fiber artist Erin M. Riley has churned out in the past few years. Actually, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Her textiles are undeniably interesting commentary on today’s heavily instagramed sex, drugs, and mostly-dubstep youth culture. From the ombre hair to the topless mirror pictures to the ripped condoms, Ms. Riley has done it all. She’s captured images from the deepest bowels of Tumblr and the sketchiest cell phones on earth. 

And personally I’m digging the Plan B one for my next apartment, but that’s just me. 

Resisting the urge to go into a Amy Schumer-esque monologue here…

Her work definitely places women in compromising, controversial positions, and I think the viewer is meant to feel a dash (or more) of discomfort. Combining the soft, woven media with vulgar-but-vague sexuality is an interesting, if not purposely shocking  mixture. I’m pretty sure some people will be clutching their pearls at this.

I would swear this was me, but that isn’t a bedazzled Hello Kitty case…

But credit where credit is due: from a craftsmanship (craftswomanship?) perspective it’s undoubtably impressive. As a proud design school drop out who went to a textile-obsessed Philadelphia college, I can tell you that this is NOT easy work.

But how it makes you feel is an entirely different thing altogether.

Exploitive? Interesting? Empowering? Sleazy? A tribute to bad girls? Reclaiming a typically feminine craft with modern amorality? What do you think of this? Let us know in the comment section, because I’m still undecided, but I definitely think it’s worthy of discussion

And if you’re in the Philadelphia area, you can catch Ms. Riley’s next exhibit at the Paradigm Gallery from August 30 to October 12.

All images via ErinMRiley.com

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