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 Steven J. Cushner  (1954 - )

About: Steven J. Cushner


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Lived/Active: District Of Columbia/Ohio      Known for: abstraction, geometric design painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Steven Cushner does abstract acrylic painting that combines patterning, drips and staining in concentric designs.

He was born in Cleveland, Ohio and studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Maryland and earning an MA degree with Sam Gilliam as his Thesis Advisor.  Settling in Washington DC, from 1986, he was a professor at the Corcoran School of Art.

In 2002, Cushner was invited by the art faculty at the University of Maryland to participate in an exhibition of distinguished alumni.  In the catalogue for Cushner's resulting exhibition, the following was written:

"One artist whose name appeared on everyone's list was Steven Cushner. Receiving his MFA in 1980,with internationally renowned artist and former Department of Art faculty member Sam Gilliam as his Thesis Advisor, Steven Cushner has gone on to achieve national recognition as an important contemporary artist.  His paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States, and his work is in the collections of numerous institutions, such as Washington, DC's Corcoran Gallery of Art and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  He has received many honors for his work, including an Artist 's Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts . He teaches at the Corcoran School of Art and American University.  The consistent quality and focused dedication of his work and career made Steven Cushner a natural selection for this alumni exhibition.  When we approached Cushner about this exhibition, he welcomed the idea with excitement about the chance to show a selection of his recent large paintings in the Washington, DC area.

Due to space limitations at local venues, there has never been an opportunity to exhibit more than one or two of his large paintings together in a single show.  These large works, along with the works on paper, exhibit the characteristic process and imagery for which Cushner is known.  Both the large paintings and smaller watercolors display the same combination of immediacy and depth of experience.  As fresh as the black, linear shapes and configurations in his work feel, it is a mistake to digest them too quickly. They harbor subtle and meaningful contradictions that unfold before the viewer.  The line's graphic nature is mediated by insistent repainting and subtle adjustments. The images in the painted fields exist somewhere between the worlds of culture and nature. Are they abstracted natural objects, cultural pictographs, or both?  The surface, created by multiple layers of liquid paint, is at once atmospheric and dense.  Cushner 's work occupies a fertile crossroads of reference and self-definition, surface and space, gravity and humor.  These are rich and sophisticated paintings, filled with life and wit, and they feel as if they are being made right before your very eyes.

On behalf of The Art Gallery and the Department of Art, it is with great pleasure that we present the work of Steven Cushner for this inaugural alumni exhibition.

Sources include:
Roger Atwood, "Steven Cushner-Reviews", ARTnews, October 2006, p. 187

W.C. Richardson, Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing, University of Maryland, Department of Art Alumni Series: Steven Cushner,

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