ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
84″ X 60″
About the Artist
Born in New York City, Merrill Steiger showed an early affinity for art that was stimulated at the age of seven when her mother enrolled her in a private art class. For the next eight years she received training in a wide variety of mediums, including painting in oil, acrylic, and watercolor, drawing, printmaking, and collage. Steiger then attended the High School of Music and Art, developing her interest in “color fragmentation,” juxtaposing strong colors using hard-edged shapes; an approach that would later inform her mature work.
Steiger went on to study art at Lehman College, receiving a BFA in Painting in 1973, where she focused on representational images, particularly portraits and landscapes, interpreted abstractly. After three years throwing and glazing pots in the mid-1970s, Steiger began painting abstract architectural images that reflected a visit to Mexico. This experience of connecting with the art of an ancient culture, and incorporating it into her own art, has become a recurring theme in Steiger’s work. She makes a practice of visiting spiritual Power Spots, which are geographic sites charged with positive energy. Her travels and studies brought her in contact with the art of Aboriginal Australians, and the indigenous traditions of Africa and Asia, including Japan, where she lived for three years in the early 1980s. After her return to New York, Steiger spent the next ten years producing collages, strongly influenced by origami, the art of paper folding, and by the restrained palette of Japan. The collages that followed featured the combining of vividly colored images.
In the early 1990s, Steiger returned to painting with a series of abstracted nudes. This work was influenced by her personal interest in bodybuilding, and reflects the intimate bond between the artist’s life experiences and her art. Steiger has long felt the connection between her spiritual path, including meditation and exercise, and her work as an artist. In 1999, an extended art meditation directed by a teacher of the Kabbalah opened up a new dimension in her work. The intuitive transformation that she experienced lead directly to the Zen/Dot/Energy Series [in 2000] that reflect India’s tantric traditions of circles and chakras. Steiger worked on the series, Unseen Universes (2004-8), which features organic forms, landscape imagery, and startling shifts of scale from the microscopic to the cosmic. The strongly hued paintings, rich with dots, lines, colors and moving shapes, suggest a journey through the inner space of one’s own consciousness. In 2009, Steiger began her current series, Worlds Collide, which builds on the previous series but now incorporates anthropological references: ancient petroglyphs from the Southwest, Zen rock gardens, statues of the Buddha, mandalas, and other imagery.
Group exhibits include: Walter Wickiser Gallery, Everhart Museum, Masur Museum of Art, Museum of Science and Industry, Flaten Art Museum, Lana Santorelli Gallery, New York Hall of Science, Opalka Gallery, Longview Museum of Fine Arts, Texas Art Institute, Silvermine Guild Arts Center, and Venetia Kapernekas Fine Arts. Solo exhibits include: Delaplaine Visual Arts Center, Frederick, Maryland, 621 Gallery, Tallahassee, Florida, The Gallery at Penn College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Spiva Art Gallery, Joplin, Missouri, Stamford Art Gallery, University of Connecticut and La Guardia Galleries of Fine Art at La Guardia Community College in Long Island City, University of Michigan Health System, Utica College Barrett Art Gallery, Allen Gallery, and MPC Gallery, Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts. She received the Diane Alexander Memorial Award from the Silvermine Guild Arts Center, the Jack T. Stewart Memorial Award, and the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Awards from the New York Artist Equity Association. Her work is in the permanent collection at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, and a number of corporate and private collections.