Eric-Paul Riege creates woven sculptures, wearable art, and durational performances that directly link him to generations of makers and women weavers in his family. Inheritance and ideas of material faith figure into his decidedly matriarchal practice. His new installation, a home for Her, is a year-long project drawn from a collection of looms and weavings made together with the women in his family. Collectively, the looms create the outline of his childhood home, which now sits empty. For Eric-Paul, inheritance is generated from the intersections between cosmologies, family, story, and Indigenous knowledge. The process of co-creation is also important as it is a means to share teachings and stories:
Our stories and our craft and our teachings and our gifts as Indigenous peoples are woven into our bodies. We have survived and will continue to survive. The makeup of my family and my ancestors permeate from my fingertips into my work. This project allows me to hold hands with my sisters and my mother through a large collaborative weaving piece. Born from a history of fiber artists, textiles connect our history to Diné cosmologies and these stories and beliefs are directly woven in the threads of our family.
Weaving is an embodied experience for Eric-Paul. The motions are meticulous and repetitive. These actions are a means of both slowing down and refocusing as well as re-establishing the relationships between the maker and the material.
In weaving and sewing and drawing and dancing I always found solace in my body. Repetitive, long, meticulous, meditative motions are a basis of my practice. I see these actions as gifts to a slowing down and refocus of existence. I see myself as both the performer and viewer. As the maker and the material. As the warp and the weft. As the web and the spider. … This is that knowledge of weaving that I have learned that I need to reintroduce to myself.
As an artist who works in durational performance, Eric-Paul marks the opening of the Biennial by unlocking the door to his old home, inviting and welcoming others inside. Wearing old and new regalia, he sits and moves with the work in a way that channels the same meditative pace that is so central to his material practice, embodying the temporality of weaving itself.
Commissioned by the Toronto Biennial of Art.
Eric-Paul Riege (Diné, born in 1994, Na’nízhoozhí / Gallup, USA) creates woven sculptures, wearable art and durational performances that celebrate his existence and spirituality. These works express his philosophies of sanctuary, harmony and interconnection. Also important is a Hózhó-Diné philosophy that encompasses beauty, balance and goodness in all things physical and mental and its bearing on everyday experience. Eric-Paul’s work, which he describes as being “encompassed in the threads of weaving and life,” creates an immersive and charged space influenced by his homes, ceremonies and rituals from his past, future and present selves.
Participated in the “Rabbit Hole: Pod Theory” Residency, 2020.