Lily Stockman (b. 1982, Providence; works in Los Angeles. MFA NYU 2013, BA Harvard 2006.)

Stockman draws from her affinity for the natural world and interest in the organizing principles of structure –from poetry meter to social hierarchies to musical form– to create arrangements of biomorphic shapes, planes, and borders. Although abstract, Stockman’s nesting shapes and outlines hint at real things observed, like a heron fishing or sunlight filling a slot canyon; her work plumbs these transitional moments and slows them down, suspending them in time. The poet Su Wu writes that Stockman’s distinct visual language and repeating, elliptical forms “shine a very bright light on small things, and make those things marvels in the noticing” and “almost tremble to contain their own expansiveness, in return for being seen.”

Painting flat on sawhorses, Stockman builds her surfaces up in dozens of layers, diluting her oils with solvents to manipulate the opacity, luminosity, and saturation of each coat of paint. Stockman references and borrows from the history of painting with a magpie sensibility– from the compositions of Fra Angelico’s jewel-like frescoes of the 15th century, to the line work of 18th century Rajput miniature paintings and 19th century American Shaker gift drawings, to the more contemporary influences of Agnes Pelton, Etel Adnan, Forrest Bess, Ron Gorchov, and Stanley Whitney– informing her distinctive and highly personal vernacular of abstraction and felicity with color.

Art historian Elizabeth Buhe writes that Stockman’s subtle details “forge direct relationships with our own personal bank of poignant memories” like a “roving speck of dappled light or a dandelion seed taken up by the wind.” Stockman’s exploration of the floating figure in a delineated space, as well as her light touch and freehand line, are influenced by time spent in Mongolia as an apprentice in Buddhist thangka painting and in Jaipur studying miniature painting. 

Stockman has recently exhibited with Charles Moffett and Cheim & Read in New York, Timothy Taylor in London, Jessica Silverman in San Francisco, Regen Projects in Los Angeles, and Maki Gallery, Tokyo. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.