Working with glass fascinates Riley - “when the glass is molten it can be blown like gum, when warm it can be bent like putty, and when cold, sculpted like marble.” Riley uses each of these phases of glass combined with its ability to reflect, refract, and bend light to create unique complex colorful works. Riley grew up in Houston Texas where his grandmother, a well-known artist, instilled in him a passion for the arts. Unfortunately, she lost a daughter at the age of nine to cancer. This event traumatized both his grandmother and his mother and ultimately led him to pursue a career as a cancer researcher and surgeon. His advanced medical training prepared him for the technical portion of his profession, but not the emotional demands of his field.
Eventually, he found working with glass fulfilled his needs; not only was he recharged, but he quickly became passionate about glass art. With no formal training in glass or art, Riley sought classes and workshops starting at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem PA. It was his cold glass workshop with Martin Rosol at Corning Museum where he envisioned combining his interest in minerals with his glasswork. There were no instructors for this, but with his background as a chemistry major, perseverance, and luck, he was able to succeed. In addition to “healing thyself,” Riley began incorporating art into his medical practice. Initially, he donated his art to support numerous cancer fundraising events, and now he works with a resident artist at his medical office to help patients create glass pendants during their treatments.