Central Library in Copley Square - Abbey Room, 2nd Floor, McKim Building, Dartmouth Street Entrance
700 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02116
Artist Duke Riley (b. 1972, Boston) draws, sculpts, tattoos, engraves, and paints subjects that blend history, fact, fiction, and myth. He currently has a major exhibition on view at the Brooklyn Museum: Death to the Living, Long Live Trash. Come hear about the inspiration behind Riley’s practice, including the story behind the Enchafed Flood, the first work acquired by the Arts Department at BPL for permanent view in the historic McKim building since 1919. This talk will be moderated by Kristin Parker, Lead Curator of the Arts at Boston Public Library.
This is a unique opportunity to hear about an artist’s process.
Enchafed Flood* depicts the great Molasses Flood, also known as the 1919 Boston Molasses Disaster. On January 15, 1919, the accidental explosion of a storage tank at a molasses factory on the North End of Boston unleashed 2.3 million gallons of scorching hot molasses into crowded city streets. The wave gushed at an estimated 35 miles per hour, killing 21 people and sweeping some victims into Boston Harbor. For decades, the area still smelled of molasses on hot days. Riley’s work depicts the cataclysm and near-biblical tumult of this incident in vast tilework that recalls the color and lines of his trademark ink-on-paper drawings. Riley writes, “The tragedy of the Great Molasses flood of 1919 may seem insignificant in the context of today’s mass shootings and super storms. Its relevance lies in the combination of deregulation, corporate greed and right wing religious fanaticism that led to the tragedy. The disaster was followed by an investigation that was derailed by xenophobia.”
Riley has garnered international acclaim, not to mention front-page articles in The New York Times, for his monumental public art performances and projects including Creative Time’s Fly By Night in 2016.
*Enchafed Flood is on view in the first floor Elevator Lobby in the McKim Building.