Erica Steiner

Meditations on an Ornamental World

by : Erica Steiner

My newest paintings find conceptual grounding in the idea that the basic human drive to decorate and adorn the material world is a fundamentally sacred or devotional one. Whether this impulse is made manifest in the form of an everyday act like putting on jewelry, or in an overt act of ritual (as in the act of adorning a religious icon with flower garlands), we as humans are ubiquitously driven to decorate our world, to sanctify it, and to beautify it with ornament.

Continually deferring and referring back to the language of nature, I use painting as a vehicle to explore my affinity for ornamentation, using natural elements such as trees, flowers, cells, and alien or marine-like forms. Highly detailed in oil and gold leaf, these elements function as visual building blocks of elaborate, dreamy, yet earth-bound realities, foreign yet viscerally familiar places where the consciousness can dwell and find new perspective.

Stylistically, my paintings are influenced by Chinese and Japanese landscape painting, contemporary graphics, textile design and art nouveau. The work also recalls a wide range of contemporary, folk and religious art, including traditional Indian and aboriginal painting, Tibetan Buddhist textiles, and medieval Catholic illuminations.

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About the artist
Erica Steiner was born in the anomic wake of the hippie era in rural northern California, and grew up on a farm. As a young adult, she moved to San Francisco, where she lived and worked for a decade alternately as a writer, student and artist. Following the turn of the millennium, she made the decision to devote herself full-time to painting, and, in 2004, alongside her husband, artist Aaron Castro, left the city for the rugged and beautiful central coast of California. Today, she exhibits her paintings in galleries and other venues around California, and is currently working to promote her work in art markets around the country and the world.

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