Riva Lehrer, 1958–


Riva Lehrer (b. Cincinnati 1958). Artist, writer and curator, whose work focuses on issues of physical identity and the socially challenged body, especially in explorations of cultural depictions of disability.

Ms. Lehrer’s art work has been seen in venues including the United Nations, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, the Arnot Museum, the DeCordova Museum, the Frye Museum, the Smithsonian Museum, the Chicago Cultural Center, the State of Illinois Museum, and the Elmhurst Museum.  She has been a visiting artist and lecturer across the US and Europe.

Her work has been featured in a number of documentaries, including the 2012 film “The Paper Mirror”, with graphic novelist Alison Bechdel,by Charissa King-O’Brien; the 2005 documentary “Self Preservation: The Art of Riva Lehrer” by David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder; “Variations” by Laurie Little and Anuradha Rana; and “Code of the Freaks” by Salome Chasnoff, Carrie Sandahl, and Susan Nussbaum (in progress).

Awards include the 2014 Mellon Residency Fellowship at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges; the 2015 Three Arts Residency Fellowship at the University of Illinois, the 2009 Prairie Fellowship at the Ragdale Foundation and 2009 the Critical Fierceness Grant, the 2008 Three Arts Foundation of Chicago grant for artistic achievement, and the 2006 Wynn Newhouse Award for Excellence, based in New York City, an unrestricted grant for $50,000.  Other awards include those from the Illinois Arts Council, the University of Illinois and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ms. Lehrer’s writing and visual art are included in numerous publications, including “Criptiques”, May Day Press, edited by Caitlin Wood, 2014, and “Sex and Disability”, Duke University Press, edited by Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow, 2011.

Riva Lehrer is instructor in Medical Humanities at Northwestern University.

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