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American painter Jay Milder, active from the late 1950s through the present, expresses his beliefs about spirituality and science using thick layers of oil paint and unconventional materials, such as volcanic ash. His experimental approach to painting, which both commentators and Milder himself have described as alchemy, draws upon his lifelong interest in belief systems such as Kabbalah, Theosophy, and various non-Western spiritual traditions. For Milder, art is a bridge connecting reason and the subconscious. His distaste for Western philosophy influences the composition of his artwork, rejecting conventional modes of representation that originated in the Renaissance. He values the material physicality of paint as more than just a means of semiotic representation. For him, the process of shaping paint is internally motivated by personal spirituality, rather than an attempt to mimic reality on a canvas. Through research on Milder’s paintings, I investigate how humans have formed and expressed their responses to the world through art, science, and religion, and how these domains have informed each other.



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Art, Science, and Spirituality: The Paintings of Jay Milder