Erin M. Riley & Lou Breininger: Understory

July 17th - October 19th

Please Join us in Outer Space this Wednesday, July 17th from 5-8pm for the opening of "Understory", an exhibition with works by Brooklyn-based artist Erin M. Riley alongside Los Angeles-based mixed-media artist Lou Breininger.

In "Understory" both artists delve into memories, events, and life experiences from unique approaches and materiality often times incorporating photos as source material that then become intimately woven images or luscious colorful abstractions and objects. Riley's intimate tapestries depicting specific childhood memories are intertwined with Breininger's abstracted stained glass works, complimented by her floral works on paper and carpet throughout this exhibition.

Outer Space would like to thank PPOW Gallery for all of their support and encouragement in putting together this wonderful exhibition.

Erin M. Riley's (b. 1985) meticulously crafted, large-scale tapestries depict intimate, erotic, and psychologically raw imagery that reflects upon relationships, memories, fantasies, sexual violence, and trauma. Collaging personal photographs, images sourced from the internet, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera to create her compositions, the Brooklyn-based weaver exposes the range of women’s lived experiences and how trauma weighs on the search for self-identity.

In her review of Riley's most recent solo exhibition, The Consensual Reality of Healing Fantasies at P·P·O·W, Roberta Smith of the New York Times wrote, "Her richly variegated colors and complex, arresting scenes take full advantage of tapestry’s stitch-by-stitch autonomy."

Riley received her BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art. Her work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at P·P·O·W, New York; Galerie Julien Cadet, Paris, France; Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway; The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY; Gana Art Gallery, Seoul, South Korea; MassArt Art Museum, Boston, MA; and UTA Artist Space, Los Angeles, CA; among others. Riley is the recipient of a United States Artists Fellowship Grant, 2021 and an American Academy of Arts & Letters Art Purchase Prize, 2021 and has completed residencies at MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire and the Museum of Art and Design, New York. Her work was recently featured in 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, CT, manifesto of fragility, the 16th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art, and Kingdom of the Ill at Museion, Bolzano, Italy. In late 2024, Riley will present her first solo exhibition with cadet capela, Paris, France.

On behalf of Erin, Outer Space will donate 5% of its profits from any sales of her work to a non-profit of the artist's choosing.

view Erin's full biography

Understory is comprised of images of myself at various moments throughout my life. I’ve used these preserved images within my tapestries over the years as a way of reminding myself of my existence, often juxtaposed with a version of me in present day. Weaving them small, only slightly larger than their 35mm printed size I am recreating them with the abstraction of tapestry, blurring the details and simplifying them down to an essence. I look back at images as a way of relating to a person reflected, while actively avoiding the indulgence and natural urge to forget the reality of yesterday or tomorrow. Memory is not static and I have no evidence, I have no way of relaying the tension and fear that would supersede and permeate through the daily mundanity, only images of myself on a bike or pouting on a beach. What I do have is the innate inclination to keep secret and the shame of generations that is not mine to carry but that has impacted all of the ways that I relate. Understory reflects the ongoing interest in the self portrait. A way to uncover of the self in spite of the challenges of truly knowing and still one goes through a life, some of which is depicted in images, feeling lied to by the themselves looking back at them and working to relay the truths so that we learn to face them, and stop repeating them, while repeating them.

Present in Lou's acrylic airbrushed carpet works there is a dreamy insignia of trees, flowers, oranges, symbols of the outside to decorate the interior moment. It is with pattern and symmetry that this decoration is affirmed and it’s association with memory, comfort and the feminine is ignited. These pieces invite the domestic into fine art spaces in order to define its relevance in informing broad concepts and ways of making. They also raise discourse concerning the origins of decoration, popularized by women artisans and the craft of decoration as a marginalized art form from the canon of art history.

Lou Breininger (b. Hagerstown, MD) received a BFA in Painting from Arcadia University (Glenside, PA) and an MFA in Painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI). They currently live and work in Los Angeles, California

On behalf of Lou, Outer Space will donate 5% of its profits from any sales of work to a non-profit of the artist's choosing.

view Lou's full biography

For Understory I am presenting work in a variety of media, from glass paintings to works on paper. Imagery such as vases, flowers, and simple geometric forms weave their way through the pieces and become character-like in their repetition.

Working from life, from memory, and from photographs I build a parade-like series of images. I use kiln-fused glass to create tableau-like paintings that blend imagery and architectural references, while sourcing motifs pulled from both the organic and the built world.

I believe in the importance of ornament. Within the domestic realm, the decorated surface becomes a backdrop through which individual identities develop and specific experiences form. Pattern is generally assumed to create a sense of order on surface. Here, it serves to distort and destabilize through a process of crystallization and blurring - referencing the slipperiness of memory and the non-linear path of ornament through our visual world. Hazy airbrushed marks in the carpet and works on paper contrast with the sharper gestures in the glass paintings. Imagery comes in and out of focus through this spectrum of depiction.