It’s not unusual for one type of art to inspire another—like a song inspiring a novel—but what about something as everyday as fabric inspiring some pretty incredible paintings?
Meet Sean Riley, a painter and textiles artist who blurs the line between the two media, and whose dynamic abstract paintings will be on display at the upcoming exhibit at Stonover Farm. (If you haven’t guessed yet, we’re just a teensy bit excited about this show and the unusual work that will be on display.)
A native of the Berkshires, Sean earned his BFA in painting at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and followed up with an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. His work took on a whole new level of dimension and meaning following the death of his father in 2008 and a viewing of an exhibit of works by the Gee’s Bend quilters shortly after. As a way to memorialize his father’s life, Sean starting putting together quilts from pieces of his dad’s wardrobe. These and other fabric works have garnered acclaim all along the East Coast.
Meanwhile, Sean has continued to branch out in his first medium, painting. For the exhibit at Stonover, he’ll be showing abstract paintings that take inspiration from quilts and shields, especially African and Oceanic shields. Most are created using gouache on canvas. He says, “I use a fairly thin application of the gouache; it allows for the weave of the canvas to come through. And the canvas itself is a textile. So it exists somewhere between a painting and a textile work.” He’ll also debut a collage made by replicating fabric-dying techniques on paper. “I create them by soaking the paper in baths of colored water, and using tape to make resists,” he explains. “The paper becomes so tactile and soft. . . . It’s still in the experimental phase, but I’m excited about the potential of this form.”