About the Artist
Railey Cooley was raised in Charlottesville, Virginia, where her love for art, animals, and nature began at a very young age. Railey started her substantive art career in animal portraiture in 2007, while attending the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia. Eventually, her work caught the eye of her alma mater and they commissioned her to paint a portrait of one of the school’s celebrated horses for its Permanent Art Gallery, where it is still on display today.
After her graduation from Foxcroft, Railey continued developing her artistic skills while attending the College of Charleston in South Carolina. While undertaking her studies, Railey grew her animal portraiture business, while she routinely also had her student artwork featured in the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston.
In 2012, Railey returned to Charlottesville, where she accepted a position as the curatorial assistant for Second Street Gallery. While in Charlottesville, Railey hosted three successful solo art exhibitions that featured her animal work. During this period, Railey also applied to the highly competitive Florence Academy of Art in Italy, where she was accepted and matriculated in 2013.
While in Florence, Railey undertook the Academy’s intensive three-year drawing and painting program, studying under the instruction of Daniela Astone, Ramiro Sanchez, Richard Greathouse, Vitaly Shanko, Daniel Graves, Simone Moritz, Tanvi Pathare, and Tom Richards. Commensurate with the rigors of the Academy’s program, and in an effort to further understand her subject matter, Railey also took extensive courses in anatomy and completed the sculptural Ecorché program under the supervision of Janne Jaaskelainen. In her final semesters in Florence, Railey lived with the Corsini Ferragamo family, where she spent what little free time she had riding horses in and around the hillsides of Florence and Umbria. In 2016, Railey returned to the United States to spend her last semester at the newly established Florence Academy of Art in New York City under the direction of Jordan Sokol and Amaya Guirpede. In addition to her work at the Academy in New York City, Railey also participated in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Copyist Program, where her copy of Benjamin Franklin was used in the MET’s publication for 2016-2017.
After completing the rigors of the Academy’s coursework, from 2017-2019, Railey lived in the historic city of Boston, Massachusetts, where she worked out of the SoWa Artist Studios in the South End. While working out of her studio, she grew her business as a commissioned artist, building from her experience in animal portraiture and depicting several subjects across different artistic mediums. Railey also traveled back and forth to Virginia several times to attend Virginia Governors School portrait workshops with Steve Bowman, Charles Weed, and Carlos Russo.
Now, Railey intends to return to Virginia in the fall of 2019—this time, she will be in Richmond, where she is looking forward to reconnecting with her roots and sharing what she has learned with other enthusiastic artists. Ultimately, Railey hopes that she can lend to the continued enrichment of Richmond’s growing and colorful artistic community alongside some of her greatest influences and instructors from the Florence Academy in conjunction with Richmond’s Manchester Studio and its faculty.
*Railey maintains professional relationships and associations with the Nantucket Artist’s Association, the Barcelona Academy of Art, and she has served as instructor for workshops in New Orleans in 2018/2019.
*Gallery representation has included The Salmagundi Club (NYC), the Lanoue Gallery (Boston), the Nantucket Artist Association, The Keswick Horse Show Hall of Fame, Comer & Company, Florence Academy of Art Student Exhibition (Florence), Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (Charleston), and Foxcroft School’s PSAG.
*Railey’s work has been featured by the MET, on Instagram, and in multiple issues of Conde Naste World of Interiors Magazine 2019 and The Best of Drawing Magazine 2019. Her work was also recently selected as a winner in Steven Assail’s Strokes of Genius art competition 2019.