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  • Writer's picturePeggy Nichols

Vivienne Riggio, an artist whose work combines textiles with found objects and ancestral history...

Updated: Sep 16, 2023


'La Churrita', (front view),mixed media, 65 x 36 x 30 inches.



left to right: 'La Churrita', (back view) 65 x 36 x 30 inches.,

'La Churrita', (artist adjusting artwork)65 x 36 x 30 inches.,

'La Churrita', (side view), 65 x 36 x 30 inches.


'My style is collaborative, I partner with textiles, sheep, forests, paper, scrap yards, segundos, antique fairs, and together we lay down a blueprint of the current or future piece. It’s a democratic process where each element has a voice and a purpose. I realized when I stop resisting, things happen more organically. I intertwine leftovers from the ocean and forest, offerings left on my doorstep. These could be an old, tattered canvas, reins, bridles, laces and trims, rosaries, anything with texture and ancestral history. Friends and acquaintances entrust me to intertwine their heritage with mine.

Why does that matter- to bring ancestral history into my pieces? Touch, smells tactile sensations, sinking hands into the raw, gentle, and tarnished connect me to that middle sphere where the origins of life churn. From that place imagination and experience influence the process and converge into art.

Which segues to my current body of work. Other artists recognize this phenomenon—an image appears in our imaginations and remains regardless of the physical or other mental activity. It eventually takes over the totality of the mind space, all of it, waking or dreaming until I surrender to creating this image. That’s only the beginning. Once the commitment is there, mental mechanics begin, how am I going to manifest this image. That’s where the 95% comes in… and the rest, as it were, is inspiration. It’s a wonder anything ever gets done.'



'Conxita', (front view), mixed media, 70 x 36 x 36 inches.



left to right: 'Conxita',(closeup detail), 70 x 36 x 36 inches.,

'Conxita', (artist adjusting artwork) 70 x 36 x 36 inches.,

'Conxita', (back view), 70 x 36 x 36 inches.




'Nidra Guide' - Triptych, mixed media, 60 x 45 x 36 inches.



left to right: 'Nidra Guide' (detail ~ front view) 60 x 45 x 36 inches., 'Nidra Guide', (back view),60 x 45 x 36 inches.,

'Nidra Guide', (side view)60 x 45 x 36 inches.

Photography credit: Tasha Ostrander


'Amore Madre Torso', textiles, plaster head, plaster bust, 72 x 36 x 24 inches.


'My roots hail back to the Midwest, and going even further back-Southern Italy, Greece, and Russia or so says my DNA. Our family of 6 left northern Illinois when I was 7 and pioneered our way to the western paradise of California, making the South Bay Area our home. I was raised in a culture embedded in Catholicism, discipline and morality, underscored by nuns, confession booths, and parental guidance. The drumbeat of religious values bore down on my siblings and me at dinner tables, scoldings, prayer time, and while grounded. But this discipline was wondrously offset by the California vibe, the wide-open atmosphere that invited innovation. That forgiving influence steered me away from all those trappings. It’s when I caught my breath.

I attended Catholic school years 1 through 8 and endured one year at an all-girls’ catholic high school. Eventually I was sent to public school, became rewilded and in the freedom and process my grades suffered but my spirit bloomed.

At California State University,Sacramento, I majored in English with a focus on creative writing, minored in art and languages. I went to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles for Design and started a design business. I worked at the Santa Fe Opera in costumes. All in all, I had a good education, finishing with a master’s in international business. With that degree I traveled throughout Latin America, Asia, Canada, and the US advocating for workers’ rights in factory settings. I loved it all. My reservoir was growing ripe with inspiration and ideas.


Throughout all this time, from early childhood and between travels, I found refuge in creating wonderfully unusual things. As a child, when I was within earshot, I held my breath until my parents lavished praise on my rare artistic creations. I realized very early on the rewards art can bring with acknowledgement and recognition. It is a glorious addiction.


I’ve always gravitated towards three dimensions. Engrossed in fibers, paper, and forms, three dimensions is where I lose myself by wrapping, designing, draping, sewing, patching, sculpting, forging. Shapes and curves is where I’ve always found my creative voice.

I’ve shown my work in galleries in the San Francisco and East Bay areas, the Monterey Peninsula, Northern New Mexico (Santa Fe, Abiquiu, Taos) and Albuquerque. The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe, and the Hacienda Museum in Taos have displayed my work. Pieces in this body of work have been awarded Best in Show, Best in Class, Most Creative, and Honorable Mentions in galleries, fiber arts fairs, and online.'



'Rosa Delmar' full-upholstery fabric, dried kelp, chiffon, roses sorry, resin, 65 x 36 x 36 inches.



left to right: 'Rosa Delmar', (detail ~ side view) 65 x 36 x 36 inches., 'Katrina - Lower Ninth Ward' papier mache, metal finding, roses, 36 x 24 x 8 inches., 'Rosa Delmar', (detail ~ front view)

65 x 36 x 36 inches.



'Mystic ~ Honoring Haitians', upholstery fabric, treated lace, newspaper, images of earthquake, Haitian metal hanger, 36 x 32 x 5 inches.



left to right: 'Marina', (detail ~ three quarter view), upholstery fabric, chiffon, metal findings, welded frame by artist, 60 x 24 x 15 inches., 'Marina', (full view), upholstery fabric, chiffon, metal findings, welding frame by artist, 60 x 24 x 15 inches.,

'Marina', (bodice view), upholstery fabric, chiffon, metal findings, welded frame by artist, 60 x 24 x 15 inches.



'Bosque Wedding', burlap, palm bark, cocoa flower base, lace, 65 x 36 x 36 inches.



'Bosque Wedding', (detail ~ neckline) burlap, palm bark, cocoa flower base, lace, 65 x 36 x 36 inches., 'Mystic Honoring Haitians',

(detail ~ close up), upholstery fabric, treated lace, newspaper, images of earthquake, Haitian metal hanger, 36 x 32 x 5 inches.,

'Bosque Wedding', (detail ~ torso), burlap, palm bark, cocoa flower base, lace, 65 x 36 x 36 inches.

Photography credit: Dana Davis



'Sheep Shearer' (front view), primarily textiles and mixed media, 60 x 36 x 24 inches.



'Sheep Shearer' (back view), primarily textiles and mixed media,

60 x 36 x 24 inches.

Photography credit: Tasha Ostrander



Vivienne Riggio, in her studio.



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