Alex Grey was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 29, 1953, the middle child of a gentle middle-class couple. His father, a graphic designer, encouraged his son’s drawing ability. Young Alex would collect insects and dead animals from the suburban neighbourhood and bury them in the back garden. The themes of death and transcendence weave throughout his artworks, from the earliest drawings to later performances, paintings and sculpture.
At the Boston Museum School – which he attended for a year – he met his future wife, the artist, Allyson Rymland Grey. During this period he had a series of entheogenically induced mystical experiences that transformed his agnostic existentialism to a radical transcendentalism.
Alex also spent 5 years at Harvard Medical School working in the Anatomy department studying the body and preparing cadavers for dissection. 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 – a unique series of 21 life-size paintings – 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 10 years at New York University, and now teaches courses in Visionary Art with his wife Allyson at The Open Center in New York City, Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, the California Institute of Integral Studies and Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.
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 approx. 50 performance rites, conducted over the last 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.
The Sacred Mirrors series, take the viewer on a journey toward their own 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 10 years to complete. It was during this period that he 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. Alex’s recent work has explored the subject of consciousness from the perspective of “universal beings” whose bodies are grids of fire, eyes and infinite galactic swirls.
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