Residencies at The Studio

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Biography: Anna Riley

Anna Riley
Anna Riley

Anna Riley is a visual artist whose work emerges from a strong desire for material research. By recreating or altering the circumstances of material manufacture, whether reversing the coloration in glass, or making lime using antiquated burning methods, she considers common preconceptions surrounding materials, only to attempt to do away with them and discover the materials anew. Riley seeks to highlight how materials and their role in our everyday culture are an active component of social life. Riley’s work is “driven by material intimacy,” she says. Understanding every facet of glass and the demands of working with glass creates the intimacy that Riley requires, where she can start “touching, prodding, caressing, or chemically altering” the glass as she desires.

For her David Whitehouse Artist Residency for Research in July of 2018, Riley continued her exploration into the history and use of colorless glass. Thinking about the notion of clarity, specifically how it begins to represent purity, and openness, Riley examined glass through the ages, from the “Roman era discovery of decolorization, to the contemporary manufacture of window glass,” she said.

During her previous residency at The Studio, in April and May 2017, Riley experimented with a variety of methods to transform amber bottle glass into clear glass. “The amber formula is intended to minimize internalized light to avoid the degradation of its contents, making this challenge especially interesting,” Riley says. “By working toward converting it into clear material, the glass’ utility will be removed. What was once a glass engineered for a specific purpose is re-purposed in service of ‘clarity.’” Riley is further compelled by bottle glass as a material indicative of a historic shift in labor—embodying a transition from the hand to the machine.

Riley’s research and experimentation has been enabled by residencies at The Studio at The Corning Museum of Glass (2017), the Creative Glass Center of America Fellowship at WheatonArts (2016), the Thicket (2016), and Wave Pool Gallery (2016) Dieu Donné (2017) and the Museum of Arts and Design (September 2017 - January 2018).