From October 3rd through November 10th, BoxHeart Gallery presents Ramon Riley: LOVENEVERENDING on exhibit in both our main and 2nd floor galleries. LOVENEVERENDING is a body of artwork that documents the human spirit. A marriage of imagery and technology with creative expression, Riley's artwork is a mere reflection of our ability to interact and build relationships. A response to the divisiveness of polls and social media, Love and Joy are common denominators that transcend socio-economic differences. Therefore, the role of technology and our notion of advancement in this digital age must be re-evaluated.
While Riley’s artwork draws from realistic study, he utilizes a meditative poured paint technique to integrate representational imagery with abstract expression. To create a foundation, Riley pours pigment on paper, an example of both God-given expressiveness as well as human innovation and manufacturing. Compositional considerations are based on imagery he documented with a pocket camera and enriched with his memory. The language of painting and drawing braids figure and landscape into the meandering of abstract shape like a complex puzzle. Though Riley’s use of line may give some outline to an image, to him it feels like he is tracing a path back to the slaves and immigrants in search of a better life. Their sacrifices, which are our inheritance, are ingrained within him. Laser cut collage and assemblage adds aspects of reproducibility and scalability to his vision. Concepts of time, space, and shape are layers within an image and present artistic challenges that keep him engaged. Riley accepts these challenges by connecting a range of creative voices, from Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence to Sandro Botticelli, from his art teachers and his students, to his own voice. Botticelli’s master compositions of mythology, grounded in aesthetic beauty and based on the elements and principles of art, profoundly inform Riley’s artwork. Venus, the goddess of Love, and her three Graces, "Charm", "Beauty", and "Creativity", entice him to a life of service as an artist, just as Mercury protects Venus’ garden in La Primavera.
Riley, a native of Braddock Pennsylvania, earned his MA at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2013. His belief in a strong art education program in public school stems from his own experience as an art teacher at Pine-Richland High School for over 17 years. For example, his project “Where I Am From” connected Riley’s Pine-Richland students with students from his Alma Mater, Woodland Hills High School, in a communal studio environment. In 2014 Riley was the recipient of the Advancing Black Arts Pittsburgh (ABAP) Grant awarded through The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. In 2015 Riley was the featured artist on WQED’s Pittsburgh 360, which spotlighted his solo exhibition, BRADDOCK Coming Home. Recent exhibitions also took place at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center in Dallas Texas and Space Gallery in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Riley’s studio is located at Radiant Hall, Nova Place, where he also serves as studio director.