river smith Greater Manchester, United Kingdom
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Based in Manchester, uk, Rivers' practise focuses on explorations of mental health, child psychology and trauma. Currently a student of the 2023/24 MA program at the Manchester School of Art. As a non-binary artist some works/exhibitions are listed under their deadname, please refrain from using this in any future publications, notes or media. Thank you.

Born out of my own relationship with poor mental health and the causality of childhood experiences, psychology and specifically child psychology has become the central focus of my practise. This theme is explored through a diverse range of media including sculpture, installation and drawing. Each work often realised with various modes of making; focus is given to process, form and materiality. Part of what my work attempts to do is to confront the comfortable and soothe the uncomfortable. Central to the work is the question; ‘how can the audience's discomfort be used as a tool to evoke change, understanding, and empathy?’

The focus of my current body of work-in-progress is the creation of ill suited, non-functioning, physically or emotionally dangerous childrens toys. The ongoing collection entitled NSFC (not suitable for children) originates from personal experience and study into the effects of chronic invalidation in childhood, the works are born of the self but also attempt to consider the greater underlying systemic issues.   It doesn’t seem as simple as “you said or did things which fractured my sense of self and that was bad.” Because why did you do those things? Did you do those things because they were done to you? Or perhaps because you too are trapped in a patriarchal system of colonialisation under which your only purpose is to continually contribute to growth of capital, feeding those at the top of the pyramid whilst desperately trying to claw away enough for yourself? To experience the fullest range of your emotions under that system would be problematic, often discouraged. How could you convince yourself to spend your entire life slaving away to make the rich richer if first you didn’t gaslight yourself into believing you’re okay with it? It’s a circular system in which we as people are often so disconnected from our emotions, bodies, and minds that we don’t realise we are traumatising our children the same way that we were once traumatised.   Parents unable to process and regulate their own emotions, disconnected from them as most of us are, are then unable to cope when the child fails to respond as desired in certain situations. Modelling maladaptive ways of coping with negative emotions to their children. Their unprocessed, traumatic experiences become the maladaptive tools with which we attempt to live our lives. Ideally, having healthy age appropriate experiences, safe loving environments, emotional validation, and adults we trust to protect us in childhood would allow us to develop a strong sense of self with robust tools for life. But, if our caregivers developed faulty tools, they are going to pass those down to us, because it’s all they know how to do. These tools, often given with the best attempts at love,  do not work and cannot offer the child what they need. Either because the tools are impractical, dangerous, or ill-formatted. The child doesn’t know any different, only that these are the tools it has been given.   Generations pass down similar versions of the same, not quite right tools, unless the cycle is broken. Without therapy, self-reflection and healing those tools become an intergenerational pattern of childhood trauma and maladaptive coping strategies. These works are metaphors for this cycle of inherited, intergenerational trauma responses, offering me the space to process certain emotions, traumas or experiences for which I don’t have words. Explorations of trauma patterns are not uncommon in art, and my hope is they will connect with those who need to feel heard, speaking to their own unique experiences, whatever those may be.

resume MFA Fine Art, Manchester School of Art, Manchester, UK, 2023 - 2025 'i love you but i dont like you', Manchester Open 2024, Home Gallery, Manchester, UK, 2024 'bored too' and 'empty inside'  Punk/Jazz, Navigators Art & Performance Group Show, York, UK, 2023 Viet Shack Restaurant wall mural commission, Manchester    2020 Red bag imports web campaign material S/S, Canada    2019 'its okay now'  Traces, with Sensitif Collective, Group Show, Kensington, Calgary, AB, CA    2018 co-created the 'sensitif collective', Canada    2018 'heterotopia’ featured in average art magazine, print publication   2017  ‘peregrine’ and ‘homogeneous'  A September Exhibition, Group Show, The Mill, Arts Letters & Numbers, NY, USA    2017 Artist-in-Residence,  Arts Letters & Numbers Institute,  (6 Week Work Exchange residency restoring victorian windows) NY, USA 2017   'heterotopia'  Tertium Quid, Group Show, House on the Hill, Arts Letters & Numbers, NY, USA    2017  Intensive Residency, ‘A Third Thing’,  Arts Letters & Numbers Institute,  NY, USA 2017 Freelance Content Creator, Artweek, Remote    2017 Communication Co-ordinator, Artweek, London    2016 BA (Hons) Fine Art ; Liverpool School of Art and Design,  Liverpool    2013-2016 ‘parcelled shapeless’  BFA Fine Art Degree Show, Liverpool School of Art and Design, Liverpool, UK    2016 ‘parcelled shapeless’  6 maybe 9, Group Show, The John Lennon Building of Art and Design, Liverpool, UK    2016 ‘sculpture’  B4*, Group Show, The Royal Standard, Liverpool, UK    2016 ‘lost’  LOST, Group Show, The John Lennon Building of Art and Design, Liverpool, UK    2015 'Wrapped pt.2'  Bombed Out Church, Solo Installation, The bombed out Church, Liverpool, UK    2015 ‘soul’ Amerge, with Amerge Collective, Group Show, Arch Collective Gallery, London, UK    2014 member of the Amerge Art Collective,  London    2014 ‘beached’  Destination, Group Show, CFA Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK    2014 ‘diseased’  Temporary, Group Show, CFA Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK    2013 The Hilary Parker award for Art, Hertfordshire    2010


please will you be my friend, oil and posca on wallpaper, 2022, £350


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