(b. 1965 Sharon, Connecticut, lives & works in Colombus Indiana and New York City) 



Riley is known for her abstract and semi-abstract paintings in which the primacy of drawing, color, line, luminosity, monumentality, nature and the built environment thread throughout her oeuvre. The “Machine Series”, her newest work, uses found patterns of  steel remainders from the auto-engine industry to become armatures for draping or delineating solid and veiled areas of color that explore possibilities for abstract painting, integrating  concepts of technology, anthropology, industry and nature. The painterly traditions of lyrical abstraction, gestural abstraction, hard edged geometric abstraction and elements of realism combine in Riley's work, discovering a sweet spot in abstraction that speaks to a world that has grown more complex with the migration of people, cultures, ideas and technologies.


About the new work Riley wrote: "As the eye seeks to find form, a sense of location, a hint of content, it will eventually discover the ordering principle that structures everything on my canvas. What happens if this is contradicted by evidently free and open improvisation? What dance might be engendered between the two? Can I make paintings that give a viewer the sense that they are discovering something for the first time?” 


In addition to making abstract paintings, large scale steel sculptural projects have developed from Riley's studio practice.  She recently unveiled a 65' x 8' x 8' long permanent commission at Mercedes House in Manhattan NYC, and a 50' x 18' x 8' steel installation for Cummins Inc., in Indianapolis. The sculptures, titled "Big Bright Steel”, are made of repurposed laser-cut sheets of steel from the auto-engine industry executed in collaboration with a colleague. 


Riley’s work has earned critical attention for her solo exhibitions in New York, Boston, Washington D.C.,  Las Vegas and across the US. In 2017, she received a three year studio space subsidy grant from Two Trees Cultural Foundation in Dumbo, New York.  In 2004,  Riley received the Award in Painting from the Massachusetts State Cultural Council. Riley’s work is held in many public, corporate and private collections. 


Riley received her MFA from The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts-Bard College, 2001,  BFA from Tufts and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA in 1991, and a Diplôme Superieur d’Etudes Francaises 1986, Université de Rouen, Rouen, France.   Riley is active as a teacher, curator, panelist and guest critic. For many years at the Harvard Graduate School of Design Riley co-developed and led the Rome Seminar in Rome (1996-2013).  She has taught at Indiana University, Pratt Institute, MICA, Columbia and Yale, MIT, RISD among others.  Riley is a contributing editor at, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Triangle Arts Association, an independent curator in NYC and at Indiana University Center for Art+Design in Columbus, IN. She is also an Essayist who has written numerous exhibition catalogue essays for contemporary artist. Riley has written critical reviews for Artcritical, the New York Sun and the Brooklyn Rail. Riley lives and works in Brooklyn NY.


TWO COATS OF PAINT by Sharon Butler Catalogue essay: Jennifer Riley’s Machine Series Paintings
January 27, 2019
July 10 - September 30, 2018
TWO COATS OF PAINT by Sharon Butler Elizabeth Hazan and Jennifer Riley at Janet Kurnatowski
September 29, 2011