Burning Question

As nomadic seafaring communities are being driven to extinction, and environmental changes destroy artisanal fishing traditions, how do autonomous communities continue to stimulate tolerance and progressive behavior within surrounding communities while attempting to survive? What are the unforeseen negative implications once they are gone?


Traveling To

East Africa


About the Project

Riley will travel to East Africa to advance his exploration of traditional waterfront existences and the struggle to survive the effects of climate change, industrial pollution and global economic stresses, while maintaining an autonomous existence. He will look closely at a variety of the continent’s seafaring communities.


Beginning his journey on Lake Victoria’s Sssese Islands, Duke will continue on to Mombasa, Kenya meeting with representatives from several communities along the coast of East Africa to discuss issues of resistance and adaptation.


About the Artist

Born 1972, Boston, MA. Lives and works in New York.


Duke Riley explores the struggles of marginal peoples who exist, perhaps forgotten, within larger encompassing societies, looking at such issues as the tension between individual and collective behavior, and conflict with institutional power. Riley is known for work that combines the seafarer’s craft with nautical history through drawing, printmaking, mosaic, sculpture, performative interventions, and video structured as complex multimedia installations.


Riley has had solo exhibitions at Magnan Metz Gallery, New York City; the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; the Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY; and the Havana Biennial, among other venues. He has received numerous awards and commissions, including a Percent for Art commission, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, and the MTA Arts For Transit commission for the Beach 98th Street Station renovation. Born in Boston, he received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence, before moving to New York, settling in Brooklyn, and earning his M.F.A. from Pratt Institute.


Photograph by Brett Land.