Elizabeth Downer Riker



Ceres Gallery is pleased to present “Rights of Nature,” a collection of paintings, sculptures and video by Elizabeth Downer Riker, September 5-30, 2023. The exhibition will feature her oil paintings, that offer an ironic critique of the devastating effects of climate change. Her sculptures highlight the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our lives and our oceans. And her video work offers hope for a way forward by looking into the past.

 “For 500 years the modern system, that has shaped the world we live in, has looked at nature as something to be exploited regardless of the consequences. In contrast, indigenous cultures have seen themselves as part of nature and advocated for a deep respect for the environment. The Rights of Nature movement is trying to enshrine that respect for nature into law,” Riker said. “With this exhibit, I hope to call attention to the ways in which burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, the industrial farming of livestock and agriculture are damaging our planet, as well as to highlight what we can do to stop this threat to life on Earth.”

The works in “Rights of Nature,” were inspired, in part, by Riker’s teenage daughter who joined the Fridays for Future youth movement and protested for global action on climate change at the UN for over 72 weeks. Watching her child make the decision to walk out of school because she perceived her future on this planet was at imminent risk made Riker want to use her art to highlight the issue. Searching for a language that could inspire people about a subject that often feels despairing, she looked to the Surrealists for creative and humorous depictions of reality. Drawing on the work of artists such as Magritte, Frida Kahlo, and Meret Oppenheim, Riker was also inspired by the indigenous resistance to deforestation and extraction as well as the climate activism of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion. Riker supports the Rights of Nature movement whose goal is to protect nature – rivers, mountains and entire ecosystems – by recognizing their inherent legal rights.

Elizabeth Downer Riker, born in Boston and raised in Paris, started out as a filmmaker, studying at NYU’s graduate film program. After discovering her love for painting, she studied at the Art Students League in Manhattan. Riker lived for many years in the Central Valleys region of Oaxaca, Mexico where she painted people working the land. On her return to New York in 2011, she began a series of paintings of rooftop farms and community gardens to celebrate the greening of cities. Riker has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally. She is an artist member of the Salmagundi Club.

Elizabeth Downer Riker



Art Students League, NY
New York University, NY, MFA Film
Georgetown University, DC, BA History

Solo Exhibitions:

2023Rights of Nature
Ceres Gallery, New York City
2021Re-enchanting the City, Ceres Gallery, New York City
2017Beneath The Same Sky, Ceres Gallery, New York City
2012Life in the Valleys of Oaxaca
Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
2010Women in the Fields
Municipio de San Bartolomé, Oaxaca, Mexico

Group Exhibitions:

2023Ceres Gallery, Raising Women’s Voices 2023, New York City
Ceres Gallery, Our BodiesOur Freedom, New York City
Salmagundi Club, Time of Day, New York City
2022Ceres Gallery, Women’s Voices: A New Day, New York City
Salmagundi Club, Annual Members’ Exhibition, New York City
National Arts Club, 30th Annual Roundtable Exhibition, New York City
2021Salmagundi Club, Figuratively Speaking, New York City 
Ceres Gallery, Outside My Oeuvre, New York City
2020Salmagundi Club, Annual Members’ Fall Exhibition, New York City
Ceres Gallery, Life As It Is Now, New York City
Salmagundi Club, View Out My Window, New York City
Salmagundi Club, Annual Members’ Exhibition, New York City
2019    Ceres Gallery, Raising Women’s Voices, New York City
2018National Arts Club, 27th Annual Roundtable Exhibition, New York City
Hebrew Union College Museum, The Climate and Me, New York City
Superfine Art Fair, New York City
 The Outsider Art Fair, Onward, New York City
2017Ceres Gallery, My Favorite Things, New York City
Ceres Gallery, Women Under Siege, New York City
2016Ceres Gallery, Summer Celebration, New York City
2011Galería La Biznaga, Oaxaca, Mexico
Municipio de San Bartolomé, Oaxaca, Mexico
2010United AIAR Artists, Gstaad, Switzerland
Galería Ocho Mujeres, Oaxaca, Mexico


2011San Bartolomé Arts Program, Oaxaca, Painting Instructor