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Alex Grey is a celebrated modern-day artist, who focuses on religious or sacred and psychedelic forms of art. Grey’s favorite quote is “In a society that tries to standardize thinking, individuality is not highly prized.” Throughout his life, Alex Grey has stood out as a motivated creative and determined artist. As a child, his father, a graphic designer, encouraged him to adopt drawing. It gave him some strength that has helped him direct the course of the artistic world.
Grey’s early life
Alex Grey was born on 29th November 1953 in Columbus, Ohio. His birth name was Alex Velzy (The Famous People). He was born of a middle-class couple. Greys’ father worked as a graphic designer and always motivated his son to take part in art, specifically fostering his drawing skills. When he was a child, he would gather insects and dead animals from the suburban neighborhood and bury them in the backyard (Chapel of Sacred Mirrors [COSM]). Due to his love for art, he won a full scholarship in 1971. Grey joined Columbus College of Art and Design. In 1973, Alex Grey dropped out of college. For the next one year, he painted billboards in Ohio (COSM). Alex Grey joined the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to study in 1974. While still studying, he would work as a studio assistant for Jay Jaroslav until 1975.
Grey’s adult life
It is in Boston at the age of 22 where he met his wife, Allyson Rymland. Allyson Rymland had a love for art. Currently, she is also a painter (The Famous People). When they met in 1975, the couple induced Lysergic acid diethylamide-25 (LSD), for inducing a mystical experience in their pieces of art. LSD aims at transforming agnostic existentialism to a radical transcendentalism. According to Alex Grey, LCD is similar to a religious sacramental (Sobel 2). Alex Grey and Allyson Rymland have a daughter called Zena Grey. She is an artist like her parents and an actress as well. Alex Grey later worked at Harvard Medical School in the anatomy department. For five years, he studied corpses and made them ready for dissection. Grey also secured a job at Harvard’s department of Mind and Body Medicine. With the help of other doctors, Alex Grey conducted scientific research to experiment on subtle healing energies (Sobel 4). The anatomical training was important in his career as it prepared him for painting the sacred mirror.
In 1972, Alex Grey started working on a series of art activities. The art series illustrated rites of passage through stages of developing psych (COSM). For over thirty years, Alex Grey conducted about fifty rites. In 2004, he released a DVD entitled ‘World Spirit’ alongside Kenji Williams. The DVD included a spoken-word in musical form.
In 1979, Alex Grey began working on a series known as the Sacred Mirror. It includes twenty-one life seized paintings (Sobel 3). The illustrations examine the anatomy of mind, spirit, and body in broad details. The large-sized paintings invite those who view it to mirror their images. The idea behind this is to create a sense of seeing into oneself. The sacred mirrors series represent the various stages of human experiences. It also has each of the many religious organizations and races represented. The Sacred Mirror series present an individual’s cosmic, biological and technological revolution (Sobel 4). It took Alex Grey ten years to complete the series. These series are among the major notable works of Alex Grey. The Sacred Mirror series landed Alex Grey an illustration work for medical journals (COSM). For ten years, he worked at New York University. There, he was an Artistic Anatomy and Figure Sculpture instructor.
In 1990, Alex Grey published a monograph titled ‘Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alex Grey.’ In the book, he uses pictures and essays to take his readers on a spiritual journey. The book received positive reviews from critics in Amazon product reviews. One critic said “… Bravo and thank you so much for sharing your talent,” (Amazon). In 1998, Alex Grey published a philosophical book, ‘The Mission of Art.’ The book traces the evolution of human consciousness via historical art. In the book, he gives the reader an opportunity to learn more about the development of Alex Grey’s work. The books include provocative performances and the use of religious psychedelic drugs employed in his spiritual teachings. The performances result into the unique visionary.
In collaboration with his wife, Alex Grey created the Foundation for the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, Ltd in 1996 (COSM). The foundation is a non-profitable organization. In their website, the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors’ mission revolves around building a lasting sanctuary of creative and innovative artists, who will foster dynamic art (COSM). The chapel is helpful as it attracts people from all over the world. The visitors aim for spiritual guidance and visionary findings. It also serves as a tourist attraction to those who would like to see Alex Greys’ work.
In 2012, he released a new book titled ‘Net of Being.’ Alex Grey partnered with his wife, Allyson Grey, to write the book. The book unveils the deep impact of art on cultural evolution. The books present over two hundred reproduction of Alex Grey’s artwork. The book won the 2013 Nautilus Silver Book Award in Photography and Art.
Alex Grey lives in New York City with his family (The Famous People). Together with his wife, they teach Vision art courses at various colleges. The colleges include The Open Center in New York, the Omega Institute and California Institute of Integral Studies. He also sells his books, paintings, DVDs and other artistic works via online retail websites. Besides, he runs his Chapel of Sacred Mirrors with the help of his wife.
Alex Greys’, work have featured in music albums, magazines, television programs, and product covers among other areas. In exhibitions, his work was honored with solo exhibitions at Feature Inc., the Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil, the New Museum in New York, Tibet House, the NYC Outsider Art Fair and the Grand Palais in Paris (COSM).
In Baltimore, American Visionary Art Museum, Alex Grey, and his wife were honored through a large installation display in 1999. There are five translations of his book ‘Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alex Grey’ in various languages. He has also featured in various books that touch on the sacred art. He has also produced CDs that show his work. Other spiritual healers, such as Olga Worral, have expressed gratification for his artistic portrayal visions (The Famous People).
Overall, Alex Greys’ contribution to the world of art is a classic inspiration to all, who look up to him. Throughout his life, he has shown dedication to the advancement of art. He commands respect from his fellow spiritual leaders across the world. Living by his words, he proves that individuality is highly prized if the society does not standardize thinking.
- Amazon. Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alex Grey: Customer reviews.
- Chapel of Sacred Mirrors [COSM]. Founders: Alex Grey’s Biography. New York, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.
- Sobel, Eliezer. “Portals of the Luminous: The Visionary Art of Alex Grey.” Wild Heart Journal, pp. 1-8.
- The Famous People. Alex Grey Biography.