Clifton Riley was born and raised in the panhandle of Texas and earned BFAs in Studio Art and Communication Design from Texas State University-San Marcos in 2006. After graduating, he served as an assistant printer at Flatbed Press in Austin, Texas where he also taught the Beginning Intaglio course. In 2007, Clifton was invited to the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice, Italy as the Artist-in-Residence. Clifton earned his MFA in Printmaking from The University of Tennessee-Knoxville in May 2013, and while there, he was a Graduate Teaching Associate and instructed in the Foundations Program and Printmaking Department. During the summer of 2012, he traveled to Poland as an Artist-in-Residence at the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts, Wrocław. His work has been shown internationally in countries including Russia, Japan, Poland and Egypt and nationally including New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and Austin.
Clifton now lives and works in Spring, Texas.
I am interested in how we understand the world around us and what affects the ways we perceive, process, and think about it. We constantly experience a wide range of data streaming from our surroundings. We see, hear, and otherwise encounter so much and it is mitigated by everything from the language we speak to digital technology. My work is informed by many things that allow for and affect how we comprehend our environment. From physical modes of perception and memory to cartography and human geography, I am interested in how we come to form the link between the external, physical world and our internal, mental conception of it.
Much of the visual content in my work comes from the places I have been and my experiences while there. I am strongly interested in the built environment, in particular architecture and spaces that we move into, out of, and across. Towers, bridges, and city squares appear throughout my work amid forms derived from scaffolding, infrastructure, and other systems. While I find many of the structures beautiful in and of themselves, their sense of history and narrative are fascinating to me.
As our understanding of the world is malleable and shifting, I want there to be a sense of transition or transformation in my work. It is at times construction and deconstruction or explosion and implosion and at other times it is compression and expansion. Within and between the amassing layers, contrasting points of view, graphic and photographic imagery, and textures and noise converge and diverge. I am interested in these points where things begin to become something else. They are intersections, or liminal states, of what could have been before and what might come afterward. This synthesis is, for me, the shifting crossroads of perception and memory, awareness and recognition, and knowledge and the unknown.
Process is an integral part of the work. While I have a deep appreciation of the history and conventions of printmaking, I am interested in moving beyond its traditions and exploring the variability and unpredictability possible within the medium. I build my printed work through systems of interrelated matrices, by embracing breakdowns in imaging processes, selective inking and wiping, and manipulating the ink on the matrix. In my drawing practice, I search for a similar sense of flux and coalescence by paring down, degrading, and misaligning information and experience.
I am interested in how our understanding of the world is formed and influenced. How malleable is it and what affects it? In what ways does mass media impact the way we think? What role does the pervasiveness of technology play in shaping our worldview? My work is a self-reflection and a search for a broader understanding of my experience of the world around me. It is a quest guided by science, philosophy, and personal experience and it is fueled by the few answers and many questions found along the way.