b. 1962 Goldsboro, NC; Lives and works in Providence, RI
Andrew Raftery (b. 1962 Goldsboro, NC) is an artist whose work explores both observational and autobiographic narratives of contemporary American life. His artistic practice rests upon a deep expertise and appreciation for the antique medium of engraving, and his precise and labor-intensive works demonstrate the enduring relevance—and efficiency—of this medium’s application on contemporary subjects to disseminate images that are universally accessible. Raftery pools his expansive knowledge and care into his works to create intimate and inventive portraits of his 21st century life using techniques that date back to the 15th century, thus paying homage to the vast history of printmaking in an updated, modern setting. His practice is simultaneously heavily research-based as a scholar and collector, as well as both personal and objective: his work constitutes a constant practice of self-reflection within his contemporary society.
Raftery’s major projects include Suit Shopping: An Engraved Narrative (2002), Open House: Five Engraved Scenes (2008), and Autobiography of a Garden on Twelve Engraved Plates (2016). Each of these works use the historical tradition of engraving to disseminate the daily intimacies of his private life and conception of the world. The dichotomy between contemporary subject matter and antique medium provides a simultaneous harmony and welcome tension within each project, enabling Raftery’s study of current definitions of home, family, and the standards of interpersonal interaction. Of his monumental eight-year Autobiography of a Garden project, Raftery says, “It is my personal campaign to put all my intelligence, craft, love, labor and sense of beauty into making things that stand apart from the mass of mediocre, pretentious or soulless objects our culture produces. The scenes that appear on these twelve plates are satirical and, I hope, humorous, but the subject as it is lived, and the manner of its embodiment as art, is passionately serious.”
Raftery received his BFA from Boston University in 1984 and his MFA from Yale University in 1988. He has been an Associate Professor in the painting and printmaking departments at the Rhode Island School of Design since 1991. Raftery lives and works in Providence, RI.
He has earned many awards, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2008, the John R. Frazier Award for excellence in teaching from RISD in 2007, the Boston University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Award in 2006, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award in 2003 and the Fritz Eichenberg Fellowship in Printmaking, Narrative Engraving Project from the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts in 2001. He was elected to membership of the National Academy in New York City in 2009.
In 2009, Raftery contributed to the RISD Museum exhibition catalog, The Brilliant Line: Following the Early Modern Engraver, 1480-1650, alongside Emily J. Peters and Evelyn Lincoln of Brown University. In 2004, Raftery’s work was featured in Jonathan Weinberg’s book, Male Desire: The Homoerotic in American Art.
In 2022, Raftery’s work was included in Extraordinary Ordinary Things, an ongoing exhibition organized by Rachel Delphia and Alyssa Velazquez at the Carnegie Museum of Art, PA. In 2019, his work was included in About Face: Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture, organized by Jennifer Jankauskas at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, MS. He has further been included in exhibitions at the Detroit Institute of Arts, MI (2022); RISD Museum, RI (2022); Spencer Museum of Art, MI (2018); Cleveland Museum of Art, OH (2015); Art Museum of Estonia, Estonia (2011); Fleming Museum, VT (2011), Royal Academy of Arts, UK (2009); Davis Museum and Cultural Center, MA (2009); and the Frye Art Museum, WA (1998), among others.
His work can be found in the collections of Baltimore Museum of Art, MD; British Museum, London; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; Davis Museum at Wellesley College, MA; Davison Art Center at Wesleyan University, NJ; Detroit Institute of Arts, MI; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, MA; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, NY; The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, CA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; RISD Museum, RI; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, MO; Spencer Museum of Art at University of Kansas, KS; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; and Yale University Art Gallery, CT.
Andrew Raftery: The Autobiography of A Garden on Twelve Engraved Plates
Open House: five engraved scenes by Andrew Raftery