Freque Magazine is proud to shine the spotlight on Erin M. Riley, an artist who first caught our eye when she featured Chakrubs in one of her pieces. We reached out for an artist feature and to get some words about her work:
All images from www.erinmriley.com
On what inspires the major themes in her work:
I have always been fascinated by sexuality and the ways we express ourselves outwardly so that we can get what we particularly desire. Something that has always interested me was how society embraces or shames different versions of sex, or masturbation. Especially from a female, otherly abled, elderly, non binary, etc. etc. pleasure is something that’s turned icky in conversations, as if desire is set aside for those who mainstream society views as attractive. I wanted to speak about masturbation because it’s something I have been shamed for and it’s something that has brought so much positivity in regards to partnered sex but also self-confidence, mental health, physical health, etc. I hope to reach an audience that is not used to seeing these things, people who’s instincts lead them to laugh or shame a person for not having “access” to a partner and reflect on why male release is OK and not others.
2014 Porn Grid
On the meaning of her work -emotionally, spiritually, and what it means for others:
Personally, it’s like doing the same thing over and over again expecting it to become normal. Often times I am like this is redundant, and then I get a comment from a young man who thinks sex toys or masturbation is pathetic or sad. Other times I think there are WAY more important things to make art about, but even after I make work about politics, violence or death, I am still a human being who’s safest pleasures have always been solo and I can’t be the only one. So it comes out again in my work. I hope it’s just one iteration of a human being taking care of themselves in a world where we need reminders to.
I am an artist who uses yarn and a loom as a way to create images, although my medium is deemed traditional in most people’s eyes, the medium is just a means to an end. I use yarn, rather than paint to create my work.
Crimson Landslide 5
I was obsessed with reading about all sorts of witchcraft as a young teen, it was an obvious rebellion against the patriarchy of catholicism and its clear statements against anything that wasn’t heterosexual. I became focused and intent on an inner power, but because of never having any spending money I could never really engage fully. I would go to the store in my town that sold crystals and just ogle and make wishlists. I had become fairly detached from that time in my life when I discovered Chakrubs, and to me it seemed like an interesting combination of harnessing the powers of materiality and pleasure while also being slightly ironic in a goopy sort of way about self-care. They were the kind of sex toy I would add to my wishlists and ogle from afar, in this recent piece I was harnessing the queer I would be if blessed with the access to the a rose quartz dil.