Kathy Riley has been creating art as a painter, muralist and art teacher for over twenty years as she raised and homeschooled her three children. With the encouragement of family and friends, she returned to college after twenty-eight years, working to complete her B.A. degrees in Art Education and Studio Art. She will graduate in December 2020 with a painting emphasis. Kathy and her husband are currently remodeling a fixer-upper in Erie, Colorado, incorporating a mix of found, repurposed, and recycled objects to the overall aesthetic, hopeful of what lies ahead. I seek to invoke nostalgia and longing for connection in what makes life worth risking; loving the unlovable, forbearing with differences and serving with no expectation.
As a parent of transitioning adult children, I am increasingly aware of the brevity of life’s experience. Motherhood, nurture, and daily ritual have molded my present. I’ve become fascinated by beauty in the mundane and the endearing results of erosion with age: patina, rust, exposure, fading, tearing and fraying. These qualities mimic characteristics often overlooked and undervalued.
My art communicates the grace of cyclical events: imperfection, vulnerability and transparency. Layers of varied and found materials narrate time, relationship, and placed value.
I am traditionally a painter, but have relished each new skill, technique and unexplored media learned at UNC. this particular multimedia piece focuses on the simple act of reflection, encouraging dialog regarding the dividing social issues of immigration and refugee crisis’ through the eyes of motherhood. The six, oversized crepe paper poppies are in remembrance of the six mothers and children found dead at the Mexican/American border last Fall, 2019. I utilized recycled brown paper, branches from a dying tree, and crepe paper traditionally used for pinatas.
Poppies, brief and beautiful, are symbols of sleep, peace and death. These looming flowers weep over a cast bronze poppy pod in the act of decay. As the daughter of a Cuban immigrant, a wife and mother, my artwork ties in the conversations that foster honor, equality, relationship and personal responsibility for the treatment of our neighbor, whomever they may be.
Riley, Kathy, "In Memory" (2020). 2020 Annual Student Exhibition. 50.