An artist and curator talk to celebrate the opening of Duke Riley’s solo exhibition Lovers, Muggers, and Thieves.
Duke Riley received his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and his MFA from Pratt Institute. Riley’s work explores his lifelong fascination with urban waterways, their historical relationship to the transgressive culture of life at sea, and the uneasy intersections of human geography with the physical world. His signature style interweaves historical and contemporary events with elements of fiction and myth to create allegorical histories. His re-imagined narratives comment on a range of issues from the cultural impact of over development and environmental destruction of waterfront communities to contradictions within political ideologies and the role of the artist in society.
Jen Mergel is a Boston-born and-based contemporary arts leader who has organized more than 50 exhibitions for museum, academic and public audiences. Her most current collaborative projects include the AREA CODE Art Fair (August 2020), the Exquisite Corpse Project for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts @ Tufts (November 2020), Combahee’s Radical Call: Black Feminisms (Re) Awaken Boston at Boston Center for the Arts (through June 2021), and research focused on the “3D Feminism” of Nicole Cherubini and park designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s legacies of Spatial Justice. Since January 6, she is thinking about the capacity of art to reimagine “claims” to contested spaces, and her most recent contributions in the realm of Public Art include serving as Guest Editor-At-Large for Boston Art Review Magazine: The Public Art Issue in 2019, and organizing the award-winning citywide exhibition in 2018, Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace. From 2010-2017, Mergel led the Contemporary department at the MFA Boston, and from 2005-2010 organized numerous shows as curator at the ICA Boston. Her latest text can be found in Sculpture Magazine.