Anthony Skirvin interviews Riley for FecalFace.
"A great SF based artist working on wood. I first met Riley after seeing a group show that he was involved in, at the short-lived Army St Art Space around 1997-8. I got a chance today to catch up with him out at his Hunter Point Studio to talk about art, woodworking, and The Frank. - Anthony Skirvin
.Standard Stuff First
Name? Riley McFerrin
Born? July 18, 1975
Grew up where? Long Beach, CA
Moved to Sf? Summer of ‘97
Artschool? University of Oregon
Domestic Partner? The best children’s book designer ever, Sara Gillingham (wife)So you have your third solo coming up at the Bucheon. What’s this show all about?
Basically after having become infatuated with wood working via construction job sites, I couldn’t stop thinking about wood, trees, lumber jacks, forests, old school wood working tools etc. This led to a thought process about nature and where materials come from. Because of modern technology, we get stuff completely differently then those before us. This started to make me sad.Like strip-mining?
I think strip-mining sucks. Mostly, I get bummed out about reading about how loggers used to chop and whipsaw trees into lumber by hand. Now, massive diesel machineries split trees in half with the ease of a steel claw. There is no beauty in that. Technology, in general, has cut man off from nature.Recycled goods and Natural materials seem to play an important role in your artwork. Is that nichs nichs or octknee’oct?
I don’t know what those words mean, but I think nichs nichs? Yeah, I really like weathered materials, like rust, stains, dirt and other examples of the ‘elements’ taking their toll on things man has made.You are a craftsman by trade. How does that reflect in your art works?
I learnt to painting and design in school only to realize that it’s wack. If you want to see real craftsmanship become a tradesmen’s apprentice. I don’t feel like I am very good, but wood and woodworking has become a never-ending source of entertainment & education for me. Tile setting is pretty tough too.So I am not going to see you strolling down the aisles of Ikea?
Their wooden furniture is pretty much crap….it hardly lasts the drive home from Emeryville. So even though it’s super cheap and looks alright, it’s really just a lot more landfill. The thing that blows me away….. a five dollar lamp? How can they pull that off? I don’t want to know.What’s your take on dickies (the mini turtlenecks)?
Dickies are rockin, I could just never find the right time of day to wear one, but in clothing related news, Gem sweater be thine is hardcore.What’s the story on that Letter Press over there?
I got into letterpress printing in school after another student saw me trying to write text on a painting. I was carving letters into a wood panel. He saw the connection between this and the letterpress. It’s the tactile quality of lead type and the de-bossing on paper that I love…..I’ve using it ever since.Using it for what?
Basically, I print small jobs, artsy post cards, and a few fine art books. Although binding really kills me. Anyway, the bay area is really a hub for letterpress printing, in the last 5 years or so a lot of small presses companies have started up. Tons of well-printed ephemera are pretty available now. It puts a smile on my face, but in a way it, saddens me too.Art is a three-letter word, but if it were a four-letter word, what would it be?
Read the full interview from April 18, 2005 on FecalFace