Artist Statement/Bio

Artist Statement

Basic Artist Statement-Bio-new 2018-6 sentence

Artist Bio – “My Path to Painting” – Exhibitions

Artist Bio

Stephen Lowell Swanberg was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and lived in Boston, Massachusetts, for many years. Mr. Swanberg, a full-time artist, currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. He received degrees in Biological Sciences and Philosophy from Stanford University and in Biochemistry from Harvard University. His overlapping career choices have included:

Molecular Biologist (through 2002)
Research activities: Chemokines and HIV, HCV replication, designer antibodies
Civil Rights Activist (Volunteer, 2004-2010)
Focus: Marriage equality, LGBT civil rights
Repertoire: Chamber music, Bach to present day
Abstract: Acrylic on canvas

My Path to Painting

In the early 1990s, while working both as a scientist and as a musician, I began intensively studying twentieth-century and contemporary art, including abstract expressionist, pop, minimalist, and conceptual art. Living near New York City at the time, I made frequent trips there, soaking up all I could about contemporary art from museums, galleries, and books.

It soon became apparent that learning about art was not enough for me – I strongly felt the need to make art. I chose painting – acrylic on canvas – as my medium. I was drawn to abstract painting, that is, painting with no visual representation of the world outside the painting. It was an exciting time as I developed a personal approach to painting techniques through my interactions with paint, canvas, and variety of painting tools. My first paintings were wild experiments in a variety of styles. Just two of my paintings from the 1990s truly prefigured my current painting style.

Stephen Lowell Swanberg June 22 2014

Stephen Lowell Swanberg, June 22, 2014

Despite my eclectic tastes, I was increasingly drawn to painters who used apparently minimal means and a limited number of elements to create highly expressive paintings. The works of these artists may illustrate nothing whatsoever concrete in this world – one considers and enters the worlds of just the paintings themselves. These abstract paintings can evoke and communicate a wide variety of emotions and ideas. To me, these works often seem to convey something ineffably expressive at which I can only marvel as I contemplate and enjoy them. All this said, a great deal of time has passed since the emergence of “minimalistic” abstract expressionism. Today, a painting composed with minimal elements – and in itself a visually compelling and expressive object of contemplation – may also unavoidably contain a subtext of commentary on “minimalistic” abstract expressionism or subsequent art movements, or, indeed, it may contain a commentary on a wide range of topics of importance to the painter. Knowledge of this subtext, my “story” as embedded in the painting, can enhance the enjoyment of the work – just as knowledge of the context and objectives of any artist’s work can enhance one’s enjoyment in contemplating and understanding it.

In the early 2000s, I worked towards forming my current and always evolving “language” of painting, experimenting with using minimal elements for expressive effect amid total abstraction. In 2006, I settled upon my current style of painting: the expressive use of rectangles and fields of color and my “signature” format of attaching centrally a smaller, second rectangular piece of canvas to the main stretched canvas, creating, in a sense, windows into abstract worlds. Also in 2006, my paintings began to appear in public.

As I think about artistic goals – such as presenting continually developing and expanding ideas using both old and newly discovered techniques, all within the “constraints” of my chosen format – I find that my overarching goal as a painter is very similar to my goal in musical performance – to have the opportunity to present to an interested audience my artistic ideas and values.

Stephen Lowell Swanberg
© 2013-2018


2013   Solo Exhibition, Center on Halsted, a nonprofit community resource and advocacy organization, Chicago, IL, “Abstract Paintings: The Expressive Use of Rectangles and Fields of Color”

Corporate Exhibitions
2013-2017   Corporate Loan, Aris Health, a division of Howard Brown Health Center, a nonprofit resource, advocacy, and medical organization, Chicago, IL (23 paintings including a series of 14)
2008-2011   Corporate Loan, Brookline Bank, Needham Heights, MA
2011   Solo Exhibition, Francesca’s, Boston, MA, “Look Out/Look In”
2010   Solo Exhibition, Francesca’s, Boston, MA, “New and Recent Paintings”
2010   Solo Exhibition, Francesca’s, Boston, MA, “New and Recent Paintings”
2008   Solo Exhibition, Francesca’s, Boston, MA, “New Paintings”

All images and texts Copyright © 2005-2019 by Stephen Lowell Swanberg