Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

An active space for visual exploration — Stephanie McMahon

Jun 05, 2018 - Ellen Bahr

I feel a kinship with Stephanie McMahon’s abstract and colorful paintings, and with her creative process, which is both planned and spontaneous. Being able to see her work in person and observe how she moves from one project into the next has energized me to think about how what she’s accomplishing in painting can be explored through photography.


“My paintings extract and distill my observations and perceptions of a particular environment while presenting the possibilities of visual experience and abstraction. Weaving in and out of referential forms and colors, I allow for intuitive and contradictory responses that fluctuate between deliberate and incidental. Initial explorations can shift abruptly as the painting develops, challenging one’s sense of time and resolve. The result is both tangible and fleeting as unexpected and precarious relationships emerge between thin, translucent layers. Gestural brushstrokes impart physicality yet glide weightlessly over smooth surfaces as figure ground relationships oscillate and conflate. Fluid marks are often contained within a shape or stopped by a sharp edge in contrast to the gesture, revealing both transitory and measured time. Individual actions are condensed into abbreviated shapes and color fields. My process is both calculated and open, creating an active space for visual exploration that connects to the present moment while reconstructing a past experience.”


Stephanie McMahon is a professor of painting in the School of Art and Design at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. She has lectured as a visiting artist at numerous universities including Kent State University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Northern Illinois University, Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, China and Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. McMahon holds a BFA from the School of Art and Design at Alfred University and MFA in Painting from The University of Texas at Austin. She has recently exhibited at Tang Contemporary (Beijing), T + H Gallery Gravity Gallery, SCOPE New York, Memorial Art Gallery, Chautauqua Institution and The Painting Center.  Her work has been reviewed and published in the Boston GlobeBlouin ArtinfoHyperallergicNew American Paintings BlogNew American Paintings Magazine, Exploring Studio Materials by Mary Hafeli.


Stephanie McMahon is co-founder of the newly launched Alfred-Düsseldorf MFA in Painting.