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  • Riva Lehrer: A Retrospective, LUX Center for the Arts, Lincoln, Nebraska



  • Solo Show Biennial Award, Evanston Art Center, August 2017

  • The Shape of Self, Kendall College of Art, Grand Rapids, MI


  • Consent to Be Seen, Haverford College, Philadelphia, PA

  • Exquisite Radical, Riverside Art Center, Riverside, IL

  • The Risk Pictures, Printworks Gallery, Chicago, IL (May 2016)



  • Mirror Shards, Printworks Gallery, Chicago, IL


  • State of Illinois Museum at Chicago



  • Totems and Familiars, Printworks Gallery


  • Next in The Gallery, Herron Museum, Indianapolis, IN

  • Lafayette Museum of Art, Lafayette, IN


  • Circle Stories, Chicago Cultural Center


  • Bella Incognita, Susan Cummins Gallery, Mill Valley, CA


  • Circle Stories, Lyons Wier Gallery, Chicago

  • Then & Now, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL


  • Patterns, Isis Gallery, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN


  • Trace Marks, Lyons Wier Gallery, Chicago


  • Embodied Memory, Sazama Gallery, Chicago


  • The Transparent Bed, A.I.R. Gallery, NYC, NY





  • RE/Configurations, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, NYC, NY

  • Chicago Disability Activism, Arts and Design: 1970s to Today, Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Mirror Mirror, Paul Robeson Gallery of Rutgers University, Newark, NJ



  • The Artist Revealed: Two Centuries of Portraits from Cezanne to Dylan, Dubuque Museum of Art

  • The Outwin 2016: Portraiture Today, Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX

  • The Outwin 2016: Portraiture Today, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA



  • Things That Kill, Prographica Gallery, Seattle, WA

  • 23rd Evanston and Vicinity Biennial, Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL

  • The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Triennial, National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC

  • Chicago Paints, Ohio University, Athens, OH



  • Return of the Exquisite Corpse, Printworks Gallery, Chicago

  • Chances Dances, Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Body Utopia, Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn NY

  • Cripfest, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn NY

  • Side Show, Yale Gallery of Art, Yale University, New Haven CT

  • Transforming Community, Westbeth Gallery, NYC

  • Immortality and Vulnerability, Zhou B Art Center, Chicago



  • Summer Show, Printworks Gallery, Chicago IL



  • Bodies of Work, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago

  • Figure it Out, Noyes Cultural Center, Evanston, IL



  • Self Portraits, Printworks Gallery

  • Figurism, Illinois State Museum at Chicago Gallery



  • Tribute to George Tooker, North Park University, Chicago



  • Revealing Culture, Smithsonian Museum, International Gallery. Washington DC.

  • Zora: How I Understand, Connie Gillock Gallery, Evanston, IL

  • Book Covers, Printworks Gallery, Chicago, IL


  • A Dog’s Life, Memphis College of Art Gallery, Memphis, TN



  • eMotion Pictures, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA, & the Chicago Cultural Center,



  • Girl on Guy, A + D Gallery, Columbia College, Chicago.

  • Curators Anniversary Exhibit, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago.

  • The Exquisite Snake, Mary and Leigh Bloch Museum, NW University, Evanston, IL



  • The Tullman Collection, the Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL

  • Spirit and Psyche, Highland Park Art Center, Highland Park, IL

  • Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art, Chicago Cultural Center 

  • Navigation/Negotiation, Gene Siskel Center, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

  • The Art of the Bookplate, Printworks Gallery



  • Representing Representation, Arnot Museum, Elmira, NY

  • Gescheidle Gallery, Los Angeles Art Fair, LA, CA

  • National Biennial Watercolor Invitational, Parkland College, Champaign, IL



  • Figurative Drawing Biennial 2004, Koplin Del Rio, Los Angeles, CA

  • Protect, Belloc Lowndes, Chicago, IL


2000 to 2003

  • Artemesia, ChicagoTo Kiss the Spirits: Homage to Hollis Sigler,

  • Contemporary Drawing Salon, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago

  • The Perception of Appearances: A Decade of American Contemporary Figurative Drawing, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA

  • eMotion Pictures, Chicago Cultural Center & United Nations

  • Moments of Grace: New Regional Painting, Muskegon Museum of Art, MI

  • Self Portraits 2000, Printworks Gallery, Chicago

1996 to 1999

  • Illinois Women Artists: The New Millennium, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., and museum venues around Illinois

  • Treatment: Women’s’ Bodies and Medical Science, Dinnerware Gallery, Tucson, AZ

  • Portrait Show, Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, IL

  • Artists of the Midwest, Northern Michigan University Art Museum, MI

  • A Game of Chance, Printworks Gallery, Chicago, traveling exhibition

  • Art That Heals, Metropolitan State College of Denver, CO

  • Narrative Flow, Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts, Chicago

  • Inside Out: Psychological Self-Portraiture, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, CT

  • Body and Soul: Contemporary Art & Healing, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA

  • Inside Out: Psychological Self-Portraiture, Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT



2017   Society for Disability Studies Senior Scholar Award

2017   Joan Mitchell Foundation 2017 Painters and Sculptors Grant

2017   Peggy Goodall Award for Social Justice, Cincinnati, OH

2017   3Arts Fellowship, MacDowell Colony Residency Award for Writing

2015   3Arts Residency Fellowship at the University of Illinois

2014   Mellon Residency Fellowship Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, PA

2014   2014 NewCity Chicago Artists Top 50

2014   Special Mention Award, Pushcart Prize Anthology 2015

2010   Critical Fierceness Award, Chances Dances, Chicago, IL

2009   Chandler Prairie Fellowship, Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, IL

2008   Three Arts Foundation, Chicago, IL

2007   Chicago Artist’s Month, Selected Artist Chicago, IL

2007   The Wynn Newhouse Award, Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, NYC.

2002   The Carol J. Gill Award for Disability Culture, The Progress Center, Chicago

1999   Chicago Artist’s Assistance Program Grant, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs

1999   Special Assistance Grant, Illinois Arts Council

1997   Regional Visual Arts Fellowship Award, National Endowment for the Arts






  • Golem Girl: a Memoir, acquired by the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House.


  • Featured subject in the “Working in America” traveling exhibit, photographs of Americans at work. Curated interviews by Jane Saks, images by Lynsey Addario.



  • 3Arts Residency Fellowship, University of Illinois at Chicago.



  • Carnegie Mellon Creative Resident at Haverford/Bryn Mawr Colleges.



  • Guest curator, 500th Anniversary of Vesalius: Anatomy and Identity Festival, New York Academy of Medicine, NYC, NY



  • Co-chair, Bodies of Work, Festival of Disability Culture, Chicago.

  • Curator, Humans Being II: Disability in Contemporary Art, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago.



  • Created the first permanent collection of art by professional artists dealing with issues of disabilities in the United States, at Access Living of Chicago.



  • Co-Curator, Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art, Chicago Cultural Center

  • Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art, Exhibit Catalogue, co-writer.

  • Curator, Navigation/Negotiation, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Siskel Center Gallery.

  • Co-Curator, The Chicago Disability History Exhibit, National Vietnam Veterans Museum.



  • Curator, The View from the Bed, International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago.




The National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum, Washington, DC

The Mary and Leigh Block Museum, Evanston, IL

The State of Illinois Museum, Springfield, Illinois

The Access Living Collection, Chicago,

The Howard and Judith Tullman Collection, Chicago

Multiple Private Collections



Ted Talks Grand Rapids 2015: Valuable Bodies.


Chicago Humanities Festival 2014: Jarred: Self Portrait in Formaldehyde.


CIVA Conference 2013: Beauty in Exile.





The Paper Mirror, by Charissa King-O’Brien. 2012. Portrait collaboration with cartoonist Alison Bechdel.


Variations, by Anuradha Rana and Laurie Little. 2013. Profiles of dancer Kris Lenzo, musician Chris Foreman, and artist Riva Lehrer.


Self-Preservation: The Art of Riva Lehrer. By David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder, 2006.



Code of the Freaks, by Salome Chasnoff, Susan Nussbaum, Laurie Little and Carrie Sandahl.  





School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Adjunct Professor, 2000-14. Returning 2018

Northwestern University, Medical Humanities. 2012-current.

University of Illinois at Chicago, Medical Humanities. 2006-2010 Returning 2018

Evanston Art Center, 1993-2000





1982–1996  School of the Art Institute of Chicago 

1976-80  University of Cincinnati, OH





Some listings represent multiple appearances

Art Academy of Cincinnati

Art Institute of Chicago

Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia, PA

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Humanities Festival, 2008 and 2014

City University of New York, NYC

College of Marin, Marin County, California

Columbia College, Chicago

Columbia University, NYC NY

Cornell Medical School, NYC NY

DisArt Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Emory University, Atlanta, GA

George Washington University, Washington DC

Graphic Medicine Conference, Toronto, Ontario

Haverford College, Philadelphia, PA

Kendall College, Michigan

Modern Language Association, Seattle

National Endowment for the Arts Keynote speaker, Washington DC. Circa 2008

National Film Theater of London, London, England

New York Academy of Medicine, NYC NY

North Park University, Chicago

Northeastern University, Chicago

Northern Illinois University, Chicago

Northern Michigan University

Northwestern University, Chicago

Notre Dame University, Indiana

Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Queerness and Disability Conference, San Francisco, CA

Rush-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago

San Francisco State University, CA

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Smith College, Northampton, MA

Society for Disability Studies International Conference, 2000-2015

Society for Photographic Education, Washington, DC

TEDx Talk, Civic Theater, Grand Rapids 2015

Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

University of California at Berkeley

University of Chicago

University of Cincinnati

University of Connecticut

University of Illinois at Chicago & at Champaign/Urbana

University of Indiana Northwest

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan, Canada

University of Texas at Arlington

University of Washington at Seattle

Yale University, New Haven, CT

Wheaton College, IL

Whitney Museum of Art, NYC NY





  • Upcoming: Golem Girl, a memoir. One World imprint, Penguin/Random House, 2020 

  • “Where All Bodies Are Exquisite,” in About Us: Essays from the Disability Series of the New York Times, Peter Catapano and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, eds. 2019 

  • “Presence and Absence: The Paradox of Disability and Portraiture,” in Contemporary Art and Disability Studies, Routledge Press, Alice Wexler and John Derby, eds. 2019.

  • “Where All Bodies Are Exquisite.” New York Times, August 9, 2017

  • “Golem Girl,” Story Club Magazine, 2015.

  • “The Surface of Soles.” TriQuarterly Journal, Northwestern University. January 2015

  • "Beauty in Exile," Criptiques. ed. by Caitlin Wood, May Day Press, 2014.

  • "Beauty in Exile (for Tim Lowly)," Trying to Get A Sense of Scale. CIVA press, 2014

  • Sex and Disability, ed. Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow, Duke University Press, 2011

  • “The Moving Face”. TriQuarterly Journal, Northwestern University, Evanston IL. April 2013

  • Lehrer, Riva and Zutautas, Sofia. Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art. Cultural Center Press, 2006.

  • “Surgery” and “Frida Kahlo” Encyclopedia of Disability. G. L. Albrecht, ed. Sage Publications, 2005. 

  • “Circle Stories.” Feminist Studies, Vol. 26(2). 2000.




  • Hsu, Hua. “Affect Theory and the New Age of Anxiety.” The New Yorker, 03.18.19

  • Watlington, Emily. “Golem Girl: An Interview with Riva Lehrer” ART PAPERS, Winter 2018/2019

  • Stahl, Devan. Imaging and Imagining Illness: Becoming Whole in a Broken Body. Cascade Press, 2018

  • The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Disability. Clare Barker and Stuart Murray eds. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

  • The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture, and Media. Bree Hadley and Donna McDonald eds. Taylor & Francis, 2018

  • Celebration review at Zoo, Edinburgh – ‘eccentric and intelligent’ THESTAGE.CO.UK. 8.21.17

  • Dery, Mark. “Monster Imagery taught Me I Was A Monster.”, 8.10.17

  • Lindgren, Kristin and Carter, Courtney. Consent To Be Seen: Work by Riva Lehrer. Solo show catalogue. Haverford College, Haverford, PA. 2016

  • Harris, Anne. Exquisite Radical: Work by Riva Lehrer. Solo show catalogue. Riverside Arts Center, Riverside, IL. 2016

  • Bellamy, Dodie. “What Can’t Be Seen.”, 12.29.16 

  • Petlicki, Myrna. “Artwork talks at Evanston + Vicinity Biennial exhibit.” Chicago Tribune, 7.25.16

  • Walker, Jonelle. “Queer is Beautiful in Outwin Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.” Tagg Magazine, 8.2.16

  • James, Damien. “Statement of Purpose for Equality among Humans.” NewCity, 6.13.16

  • Baudler, Liz. “Riva Lehrer and the Evolution of Risk.” Windy City Times, 5. 11. 16.

  • Foumberg, Jason. “What is Extreme Consent? Portraitist Riva Lehrer Explains.” Chicago Magazine, 7.21.15.

  • Frank, Priscilla. “'Body Utopia' Explores The Explosive Beauty Of Nonconforming Bodies.” Huffington Post, 9.4.15.

  • Kuppers, Petra. Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction. Palgrave Press, 2014.

  • “Art 50 2014: Chicago’s Artists’ Artists” NewCity, 9.18.14

  • Morris, Matt. “Riva Lehrer Chosen for New 3Arts and UIC Artist Fellowship.” NewCity, 9.5.2014

  • Wiseman, Emma. "Anatomist of Influence." Hyperallergic, 10.27.14

  • Bobadilla, Suzanna. "Riva Lehrer", Feministing Five, 1.4.14

  • You Laugh With Your Whole Face, a video by Cleo Mees, based on Lehrer’s “Golem Girl Gets Lucky.” 2013

  • Bergquist, Kathie. "Meet A Ms Fit: Artist Riva Lehrer." Ms. Fit Magazine, 5.2.13

  • Meier, Allison. "Repatriation Through Portraiture." Hyperallergic, 10.17.13

  • Brueggermann, Brenda Jo. Arts and Humanities. Sage, 2012

  • Berlant, Lauren. Cruel Optimism. Duke University Press, 2011.

  • Millett-Gallant, Ann. The Disabled Body in Contemporary Art. Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010

  • Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Staring: How We Look, Oxford University Press, 2009

  • Maxwell, Carrie. “Riva Lehrer’s ‘Mirror Shards’ debuts at Printworks”. Windy City Times, 12.12.11

  • James, Damien. “Eye Exam: The Skin She Lives In”. New City Art, 10.29.11

  • “Riva Lehrer Exhibited at Printworks Gallery.”, 11.9.11

  • Smart: Riva Lehrer’s Body of Art. Bitch Media, June 2010

  • Davis, Andrew. “A Gay in the Life: Riva Lehrer”. Windy City Times, 10.6.10

  • “Zen, Riva Lehrer, and the Art of Disability.” Irked Magazine, 12.8.07

  • Nance, Kevin.  “Artistic Passions Turn to Girl on Guy.” Chicago Sun Times, 10.5.07

  • Czerwiec, MK. “A Conversation with Riva Lehrer.” Graphic Medicine. 5.30.12

  • Artner, Alan G.  “Girl on Guy Puts Cold Logic to Hot Buttons.” Chicago Tribune, 10.4.07

  • The Tullman Collection, The Mobile Museum of Art, exhibition catalogue

  • Welte, Ruth. “Body Art.” Time Out Chicago. April 20-27, 2006

  • Gray, P.J. “Circling a Monster.” Pink Pages. May 2004

  • Thodos, Diane. “Riva Lehrer: Circle Stories.” May 2004

  • Hawkins, Margaret. “Lehrer’s paintings disable common notions of beauty,” Chicago Sun-Times. 4.16.04

  • Meyer, Karen “Artist with disability displays portraits in Chicago,ABC 7 News Chicago, 4.9.04

  • Stein, Lisa. “Artist depicts the disabled with no punches pulled.” Chicago Tribune. 3.13.03

  • Hackett, Regina. “Frye’s exhibit of figurative artists is cluttered but compelling.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 6.27.02           

  • eMotion Pictures: An Exhibition of Orthopedics in Art, AAOS Press, 2001

  • Fries, Kenny. “Risky Encounters: Riva Lehrer’s Circle Stories,” New Mobility, August 2001

  • Hammond, Harmony. Lesbian Art in America. New York: Rizzoli International, 2000.

  • The Illinois Committee For The National Museum Of Women In The Arts. Illinois Women Artists: The New Millennium. 2000

  • New American Paintings, No. 23, Open Studios Press, 1999

  • Hawkins, Margaret. "Meaning’s More Than Skin Deep," Chicago Sun-Times, 4.6.99

  • Ganim, Barbara. Art and Healing, Three Rivers Press, 1999.

  • Anderson, D. and M. Strauss. Inside Out: Psychological Self-Portraits. Aldrich Museum, 1995

  • Capasso, Nick. Body & Soul: Contemporary Art and Healing. DeCordova Museum, 1994

Solo Exhibits
Group Exhibits
Selected Projects
Public Collections
Videos and Films
Teaching Experience
Visiting Artist
Bibliography as Author
Bibliography as Subject
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