Alex Grey

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Alex Grey
Alex Grey 2013.jpg
Grey in front of his painting Net of Being in 2013
Born (1953-11-29) November 29, 1953 (age 65)
Columbus, Ohio, United States
Known for Spiritual and visionary art

Alex Grey (born November 29, 1953) is an American visionary artist, author, teacher, and Vajrayana practitioner. His body of work spans a variety of forms including performance art, process art, installation art, sculpture, visionary art, and painting. Grey is a member of the Integral Institute. He is also on the board of advisors for the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, and is the Chair of Wisdom University's Sacred Art Department. He and his wife Allyson Grey are the co-founders of The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM), a non-profit church supporting Visionary Culture in Wappingers Falls, New York.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Vajrayāna (वज्रयान), Mantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Tantric Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism are the various Buddhist traditions of Tantra and "Secret Mantra", which developed in medieval India and spread to Tibet, Bhutan, and East Asia. In Tibet, Buddhist Tantra is termed Vajrayāna, while in China it is generally known as Tángmì Hanmi 漢密 or Mìzōng (密宗, "Esoteric Sect"), in Pali it is known as Pyitsayãna (ပစ္စယာန), and in Japan it is known as Mikkyō.

Performance art artistic performance presented to an audience

Performance art is a performance presented to an audience within a fine art context, traditionally interdisciplinary. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated, spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. The performance can be live or via media; the performer can be present or absent. It can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body, or presence in a medium, and a relationship between performer and audience. Performance art can happen anywhere, in any type of venue or setting and for any length of time. The actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work.

Contents

Early life

Alex Grey painting. Alex Grey Painting 1.jpg
Alex Grey painting.

Grey was born Alex Velzy in Columbus, Ohio on November 29, 1953, the middle child of a middle-class couple. His father was a graphic designer and encouraged his son's drawing ability. Young Alex would collect insects and dead animals from the suburban neighborhood and bury them in the back yard. The themes of death and transcendence weave throughout his artworks, from the earliest drawings to later performances, paintings and sculpture. He went to the Columbus College of Art and Design for two years (1971–73), then dropped out and painted billboards in Ohio for a year. Grey then attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for one year, to study with the conceptual artist, Jay Jaroslav.[ citation needed ]

Columbus, Ohio Capital of Ohio

Columbus is the state capital of and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio. With a population of 879,170 as of 2017 estimates, it is the 14th-most populous city in the United States and one of the fastest growing large cities in the nation. This makes Columbus the third-most populous state capital in the US and the second-most populous city in the Midwest. It is the core city of the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses ten counties. With a population of 2,078,725, it is Ohio's second-largest metropolitan area.

Graphic designer person who who assembles images, typography or motion graphics to create a piece of design

A graphic designer is a professional within the graphic design and graphic arts industry who assembles together images, typography, or motion graphics to create a piece of design. A graphic designer creates the graphics primarily for published, printed or electronic media, such as brochures (sometimes) and advertising. They are also sometimes responsible for typesetting, illustration, user interfaces, and web design. A core responsibility of the designer's job is to present information in a way that is both accessible and memorable.

Columbus College of Art and Design

Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) is a private college of art and design located in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1879 as the Columbus Art School, CCAD is one of the oldest private art and design colleges in the United States. Located in downtown Columbus, CCAD's campus consists of 14 buildings on 9 acres (36,000 m2) and is adjacent to the Columbus Museum of Art. Approximately 1,050 full-time students are enrolled.

At the Boston Museum School he met his wife, the artist Allyson Rymland Grey. [1] During this period he had a series of entheogenically induced mystical experiences that transformed his agnostic existentialism to a radical transcendentalism. The couple would trip together on LSD. Alex then spent five years at Harvard Medical School working in the Anatomy department studying the body and preparing cadavers for dissection.

Entheogen chemical substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context that often induces psychological or physiological changes

An entheogen is a class of psychoactive substances that induce any type of spiritual experience aimed at development. The term entheogen is often chosen to contrast recreational use of the same drugs.

Agnostic existentialism is a type of existentialism which makes no claim to know whether there is a "greater picture"; rather, it simply asserts that the greatest truth is that which the individual chooses to act upon. It feels that to know the greater picture, whether there is one or not, is impossible, or impossible so far, or of little value. Like the Christian existentialist, the agnostic existentialist believes existence is subjective.

Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that developed in the late 1820s and 1830s in the eastern United States. It arose as a reaction to protest against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality at the time. The doctrine of the Unitarian church as taught at Harvard Divinity School was of particular interest.

Career

He also worked at Harvard's department of Mind/Body Medicine with Dr. Herbert Benson and Dr. Joan Borysenko, conducting scientific experiments to investigate subtle healing energies. Alex's anatomical training prepared him for painting the Sacred Mirrors (explained below) and for doing medical illustration. When doctors saw his Sacred Mirrors, they asked him to do illustration work. Grey was an instructor in Artistic Anatomy and Figure Sculpture for ten years at New York University, and now teaches courses in Visionary Art with Allyson at The Open Center in New York City; [2] Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado; the California Institute of Integral Studies and the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.[ citation needed ]

Herbert Benson, is an American medical doctor, cardiologist, and founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. He is a professor of mind/body medicine at Harvard Medical School and director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) at MGH. He is a founding trustee of The American Institute of Stress. He has contributed more than 190 scientific publications and 12 books. More than five million copies of his books have been printed in different languages.

New York University private research university in New York, NY, United States

New York University (NYU) is a private research university spread throughout the world. Founded in 1831, NYU's historical campus is in Greenwich Village, New York City. As a global university, students can graduate from its degree-granting campuses in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, as well as study at its 12 academic centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.

Naropa University University in Boulder Colorado

Naropa University is a private liberal arts university associated with Buddhism and located in Boulder, Colorado. Founded in 1974 by Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa, it is named for the 11th-century Indian Buddhist sage Naropa, an abbot of Nalanda. The university describes itself as Buddhist-inspired, ecumenical, and nonsectarian rather than Buddhist. Naropa promotes non-traditional activities like meditation to supplement traditional learning approaches.

Inside the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. Alex Grey - COSM 4.jpg
Inside the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.

In 1972 Grey began a series of art actions that bear resemblance to rites of passage, in that they present stages of a developing psyche. The approximately 50 performance rites, conducted over the past 30 years, move through transformations from an egocentric to more sociocentric and increasingly worldcentric and theocentric identity. The most recent performance was "WorldSpirit", a spoken word and musical collaboration with Kenji Williams which was released in 2004 as a DVD.[ citation needed ]

Rite of passage celebration of the passage which occurs when an individual leaves one group to enter another

A rite of passage is a ceremony of the passage which occurs when an individual leaves one group to enter another. It involves a significant change of status in society. In cultural anthropology the term is the Anglicisation of rite de passage, a French term innovated by the ethnographer Arnold van Gennep in his work Les rites de passage, "The Rites of Passage". The term is now fully adopted into anthropology as well as into the literature and popular cultures of many modern languages.

Grey's unique series of 21 life-sized paintings, the Sacred Mirrors (to be on display at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in Wappinger, New York), takes the viewer on a journey toward their own so called divine nature by examining, in detail, the body, mind, and spirit. The Sacred Mirrors present the physical and subtle anatomy of an individual in the context of cosmic, biological and technological evolution. Begun in 1979, the series took ten years to complete. During this time Grey developed his depictions of the human body that "x-ray" the multiple layers of reality, and reveal the interplay of anatomical and spiritual forces. After painting the Sacred Mirrors, he applied this multidimensional perspective to such archetypal human experiences as praying, meditation, kissing, copulating, pregnancy, birth, nursing and dying. More recent[ when? ] work explores the subject of consciousness from the perspective of "universal beings" whose bodies are grids of fire, eyes and infinite galactic swirls.[ citation needed ]

Wappinger, New York Town in New York, United States

Wappinger is a town in Dutchess County, New York, United States. It is in the Hudson Valley region, 70 miles (110 km) north of New York City, on the eastern bank of the Hudson River. The population was 27,048 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from the Wappinger Indians who inhabited the area.

X-ray Röntgen radiation

X-rays make up X-radiation, a form of electromagnetic radiation. Most X-rays have a wavelength ranging from 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz (3×1016 Hz to 3×1019 Hz) and energies in the range 100 eV to 100 keV. X-ray wavelengths are shorter than those of UV rays and typically longer than those of gamma rays. In many languages, X-radiation is referred to with terms meaning Röntgen radiation, after the German scientist Wilhelm Röntgen who discovered these on November 8, 1895, who usually is credited as its discoverer, and who named it X-radiation to signify an unknown type of radiation. Spelling of X-ray(s) in the English language includes the variants x-ray(s), xray(s), and X ray(s).

A visitor appreciates a piece of art. Alex Grey - COSM 5.jpg
A visitor appreciates a piece of art.

Holland Cotter, art critic for the New York Times wrote in 2002, "Alex Grey's art, with its New Age symbolism and medical-illustration finesse, might be described as psychedelic realism, a kind of clinical approach to cosmic consciousness. In it, the human figure is rendered transparently with X-ray or CAT-scan eyes, the way Aldous Huxley saw a leaf when he was on mescaline. Every bone, organ and vein is detailed in refulgent color; objects and space are knitted together in dense, decorative linear webs." [3] Grey's paintings have been featured in venues as diverse as the album art of Tool, The String Cheese Incident, Meshuggah, the Beastie Boys and Nirvana, Newsweek magazine, the Discovery Channel, Rave flyers and sheets of blotter acid. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including Feature Inc., Tibet House, Stux Gallery, P.S. 1, The Outsider Art Fair and the New Museum in NYC, the Grand Palais in Paris, the Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil.[ citation needed ]

Grey has been a keynote speaker at conferences worldwide including Tokyo, Amsterdam, Basel, Barcelona and Manaus. The international psychedelic community has embraced Grey as an important "mapmaker" and spokesman for the visionary realm. In his compendium of psychedelic culture, Psychedelia (2012), Patrick Lundborg speaks of Grey's position: "First of all, Visionary Art would not be the active, promising field it is today without the appearance of Alex Grey on the scene. Born 1953, Alex Grey is the leading psychedelic artist of today, and also one of the foremost proponents of Visionary Art as a style. Via interviews, his own writings and the CoSM art journal, Grey has contributed to a historical perspective on the school..." [4] [ full citation needed ]

A large installation called Heart Net by Alex and his wife was displayed at Baltimore's American Visionary Art Museum in 1998-99. A mid-career retrospective of Grey's works was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego in 1999. The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, CoSM, a long-term exhibition of 50 works of transformative art by Grey opened in the Fall of 2004 in New York City and relocated to its present Hudson Valley location in 2009.[ citation needed ]

Publications

The large format art book, Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alex Grey published by Inner Traditions in 1990, is still in print and has been translated into five languages and sold over 150 thousand copies. This book of paintings takes the viewer on a graphic journey through the physical, and spiritual anatomy of the self. From anatomically correct rendering of the body systems, Grey moves to the spiritual/energetic systems with such images as Universal Mind Lattice, envisioning the sacred and esoteric symbolism of the body and the forces that define its living field of energy. Includes essays on the significance of Grey's work by Ken Wilber, a transpersonal psychologist, and by the noted New York art critic, Carlo McCormick. Grey's philosophical text, The Mission of Art, published by Shambhala in 1998, traces the evolution of human consciousness through art history, explores the role of an artist's intention and conscience, and reflects on the creative process as a spiritual path.[ citation needed ]

Transfigurations is Alex's second large-format monograph from Inner Traditions, containing over 300 color and black and white images of his work. Transfigurations explores Grey's well known portrayals of light bodies, performance works, relationship with his wife, Allyson Grey, and their quest to build a Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. Sounds True has released The Visionary Artist, a CD of Grey's reflections on art as a spiritual practice. Grey co-edited the book, Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics (Chronicle Books, 2002, reprinted by Synergetic Press, 2015).[ citation needed ]

In 2004 Grey published his collected works in Visions, a limited-edition boxed set which contains a portfolio of new works along with his Sacred Mirrors and Transfigurations. Net of Being, released by Inner Traditions in 2012, explores how Alex Grey's visionary art is evolving the cultural body through icons of interconnectedness and a new symbology of the Networked Self. Net of Being contains spectacular photos of Grey's collaboration with the cult band Tool plus his worldwide live-painting performances, and offers Grey's reflections on how art evolves consciousness.[ citation needed ]

Personal life

He lives in New York City and Wappinger, NY, with his wife, painter Allyson Grey. Their daughter, actress Zena Grey, lives in Los Angeles. [5] [ third-party source needed ]

Films

In ARTmind (2004) Grey explores the healing potential of sacred art. CoSM the movie, was released in 2006 and features Grey giving a tour of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors exhibition on display (2004-2009) in New York City. Grey appeared in the 2006 film Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within, a documentary about rediscovering an enchanted cosmos in the modern world. [6] He also appeared in the film DMT: The Spirit Molecule, in which he talked about the importance of the substance DMT in the past and present world, as well as describing some of his personal experiences with the substance and how it influenced his painting.[ third-party source needed ]

Paintings

Alex Grey painting. Alex Grey Painting 2.jpg
Alex Grey painting.

Grey's paintings can be described[ according to whom? ] as a blend of sacred, visionary art and postmodern art. He is best known for his paintings of glowing anatomical human bodies, images that “x-ray” the multiple layers of reality. His art is a complex integration of body, mind, and spirit. The Sacred Mirrors, a life-sized series of 21 paintings, took 10 years to complete, and examines in detail the physical and metaphysical anatomy of the individual. "The inner body is meticulously rendered - not just anatomically precise but crystalline in its clarity". [7] Many of his paintings include detailed representations of the skeleton, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and lymphatic system. Grey applies this multidimensional perspective to paint the universal human experience. His figures are shown in positions such as praying, meditating, kissing, copulating, pregnancy, birth and death. His work incorporates many religious symbols, including auras, chakras, and icons with geometric shapes and tessellations in natural, industrial, and multicultural situations. Grey's paintings are permeated with an intense and subtle light that is rare in art history. “It is the light that is sublime in Grey’s oeuvre - which is the most important innovation in religious light since the Baroque - and that makes the mundane beings in them seem sublime, in every realistic detail of their exquisite being”. [7] His highly detailed paintings are spiritual and scientific in equal measure, revealing his psychedelic, spiritual and super-natural view of the human species. [8]

Philosophy

Grey has also made his own contribution to the philosophy of art in his book The Mission of Art (1998). Therein, he promotes the possibility of the mystical potential of art: he argues that the process of artistic creation can (and should) play a role in the enlightenment of the artist. For him, the process of artistic creation holds the potential of transcending the limitations of the mind and more fully expressing the divine spirit. He also believes that art can induce within the viewer an elevated state wherein spiritual states of being are attained.[ citation needed ]

In an interview with Ken Wilber for Integral Naked , Grey described an experience of shared visionary mystical experience between himself and his wife, which led him to believe in spirituality and spiritual practice.[ citation needed ]

Reception

Painting and music groups

Grey's artwork has often been used by music groups on their album covers.

In the media

Grey's artwork has been featured on the cover of Sub Rosa , Newsweek , High Times , Shaman's Drum , Shambhala Sun , Juxtapoz , Vision, Gnosis and The Healing Power of Neurofeedback: The Revolutionary LENS Technique for Restoring Optimal Brain Function.

The Discovery Channel included Grey in a feature on art and creativity in altered states.

The Viking Youth Power Hour interviewed Alex and Allyson Grey about the role of sacred art, the holy shenanigans of Burning Man, and the development of his process.

Grey's work and his Chapel of Sacred Mirrors gallery in New York City are featured in a 2006 DVD release CoSM The Movie, directed by Nick Krasnic.

Grey talks about his personal philosophy in the 2009 film Cognition Factor . [9]

In Variable Star , a science fiction novel written by Spider Robinson based on a story outline by Robert A. Heinlein, Robinson devotes several pages to his protagonist's discovery of Grey's Sacred Mirrors and Progress of the Soul series, and to using them to enhance meditation. [10]

Collections

Alex Grey explaining his work. Alex Grey Explaining.jpg
Alex Grey explaining his work.

Publications

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References

  1. David Ian Miller (March 24, 2008). "LSD Helped Forge Alex Grey's Spiritual, Artistic and Love Lives". San Francisco Chronicle "Finding My Religion" series.
  2. Opencenter.org
  3. Cotter, Holland, New York Times, Alex Grey Tibet House review, October 4, 2002
  4. Lundborg, Patrick, Psychedelia, An Ancient Culture, A Modern Way of Life, 2012, Lysergia, pg 421
  5. https://www.alexgrey.com/bio/ Alex Grey biography at his website
  6. Mann, Rod (Director) (2006). Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within (DVD video). Critical Mass Productions. OCLC   181630835. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  7. 1 2 Donald Kuspit (2000). Alex Grey's Mysticism. Redeeming Art: Critical Reveries.
  8. Outsider Art Sourcebook , ed. John Maizels, Raw Vision, Watford, 2009, p.82
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-21. Retrieved 2012-11-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. Heinlein, Robert; Spider Robinson (September 2006). Variable Star (1st ed.). New York: Tom Doherty Associates. pp. 170–173. ISBN   0-7653-1312-X.