PAYSON R. STEVENS
(1945-, New York City)
The paintings in this Web exhibition primarily reflect the main concern of my artistic work since the early 1970s: the flow of energy both in the natural world and the deeper spiritual planes that surround them. The artwork is grouped into the following galleries:
My early work as an artist began in the mid-1960s when I was a member of New York City’s Bread and Puppet Theater. During this period (and in the mid-1970s) I also studied at the Arts Students League and the School of Visual Arts. My move to California in 1968 opened me up to nature for the first time. My observations of natural forms have informed my life as both scientist and artist. I have traveled extensively from Antarctica to the South Pacific Islands; Baja, Mexico to the Bering Glacier, Alaska; the American Southwest to the Himalayan ranges of Nepal and India.
Having been trained as an oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a major part of my professional life has been the environment and the earth sciences. The two companies I founded, InterNetwork, Inc. and InterNetwork Media, Inc. communicated issues of global change to the science community, the general public, and students for over twenty years. Extensive satellite and Space Shuttle imagery of the Earth from space was used in these projects and has deeply influenced my art.
In 1989, while trekking in the Solu-Khumbu, Everest region of Nepal, I had the good fortune to have an audience with Rimpoche Tulshig (“tulshig” means destroyer of illusions), a revered, high Tibetan lama of the Buddhist Nyingmapa sect. The dilemma of my life had been doing science versus doing art. The Rimpoche kindly provided me with an answer: “There are enough scientists in the world, it needs more artists-paint!” It took a while to fully commit to his advice, but now painting is my daily work.
Over the past 40 years I have painted abstract land and seascapes, preoccupied by their energy and power. These images represent my attempt to honor our Home Planet and engender a sense of beauty and contemplative respect in the viewer. The energy dimension envisioned by my work, on one level, is an attempt to touch different levels of visual awareness. On another, it is about the play of energy all around us with its inherent movement and beauty. Many of the later paintings have iridescent, reflective surfaces. These layers shift depending on the angle of light and/or the viewer’s perspective.
The energy of Nature is constantly transforming: a reminder that nothing is permanent and that a greater mystery envelops us all. It is only through self-awareness and our good works that we create something beyond our small ego presence and merge into the eternal moment, becoming part of its flow.