Rediscovering the 17th Century Dutch Still Life
This series of large format digital photographs containing foods and natural objects combined with common consumer electronic objects references the legacy of 17th Century Dutch and Flemish still lifes. Set in traditional chiaroscuro lighting, my choice of objects are influenced by day to day exposure to household items that signify various time periods – inherited antiques, obsolete electronic devices, under-used studio equipment.
What led me to this series is my desire to learn more about studio lighting to simulate the natural light that was used by painters hundreds of years ago, and to increase my knowledge of digital photography, acknowledging the present with the use of current technology.
My work investigates the juxtaposition of traditional composition, structure and lighting with contemporary objects and technology. A record of food, objects, animals present themselves in deceptively composed arrangements. The atmospheric backgrounds have become an important addition to these recent compositions and serve as a personal journal of my whereabouts.
Barbra Riley was born in Brooklyn, and raised outside of New York City in White Plains, New York. She studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and California State University, Sacramento where she received her BA and MA in Art.
For four years after graduation, Barbra ran her own art and design studio in New York City. She designed, photographed, and worked with printers and bookbinders on commercial projects while she continued to produce and exhibit her own water-media paintings, hand-colored photographs and works on paper.
In 1978 she accepted a teaching position at what was then Corpus Christi State University, now Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. While teaching at A&M-CC, she continued with graduate study at the University of Texas-Austin in the department of Photojournalism. In addition to teaching classes in photography, book arts and watercolor painting at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Barbra developed the digital curriculum in photography and commercial design for the Art Department, curated exhibitions for the Weil Gallery, conducted workshops in historical photographic processes, bookbinding and watercolor painting and led classes and workshops abroad. She has also contributed to articles about teaching photography for Photo*Letter, published by the Texas Photographic Society and Wildlife in Focus III, Coastal Bend Wildlife Habitat Education Program.
Barbra Riley’s photographs and paintings have been widely exhibited for more than 30 years. She has been included in exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., Santa Barbara Museum of Art and Laguna Beach Museum of Art, California. In Texas, she has exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Houston Center for Photography, Laguna Gloria Museum in Austin, Abilene Fine Arts Museum, and The Art Museum of South Texas as well as dozens of universities, art galleries and alternative art exhibition spaces. Currently, 18 large painted photographs by Riley (commissioned by the SPURS, NBA) are featured in the new AT&T Center Collection of Art in San Antonio.
Art work by Barbra Riley is in the permanent collections of the Art Museum of South Texas, Matthews & Branscomb, 1st Community Bank, Bank of America and the Bell Library at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Her black and white photographs of Europe line the walls in Jason’s Deli at five locations in South Texas. Elsewhere in Texas, her work resides in numerous permanent collections including the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Dallas Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin, Goldman Sachs and Southwestern Bell in Dallas, Merrill Lynch and Texas Instruments in Houston, and the AT&T Center and Republic National Bank, San Antonio. Nationally, she is represented in the corporate collections of Chase Manhattan Bank, New York City, Kaiser-Permanente and Price Waterhouse, California.
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