Photos by Amber Zheng ’20
Left: Abstract artist Sean Greene focuses on a painting. Right: Greene poses with the final product. He currently teaches Intro to Painting at Mount Holyoke.
BY ANISHA PAI '19
When he’s not teaching Painting I, introduction to painting, Visiting Lecturer Sean Greene creates abstract paintings out of his Florence, MA studio, the Brushworks Arts and Industry Building. There he uses matte oil paint to experiment with shape, color and pattern.
Greene lives in Florence with his wife and two daughters, but grew up in Vermont and Connecticut. For a while, he lived with his great aunt Adelaide, who kept a lot of Mexican pottery and other art in her house.
He began exploring visual arts in high school when, as a bass player, he created logos and graphic designs for concerts. The ’80s graffiti he saw on the train tracks on his way to New York to watch a Yankees game with his father cemented his love for art.
“It kind of opened my eyes to all these possibilities of creative expression… I didn’t really understand what I was looking at, but it was exciting and I wanted to know more. It was a big inspiration growing up,” said Greene.
With roots in the underground, back-door world of art, Greene enrolled in art school in New York and began learning about the masters. He cites Henri Matisse as his favorite painter.
“I think of being an artist as being in a dialogue with a lot of other artists,” said Greene, “there’s a conversation happening around visual art and it’s a contemporary one; not the same conversation that was happening 200 years ago.”
Greene is passionate about fostering a discussion around art, and describes his artistic process as being in a dialogue with the elements of his creations — more intuitive than intellectual or conceptual.
“So I have something that’s graffiti-esque butting up against something that’s more ’70s fabric design,” he said. “I try to make paintings that are as natural to who I am as possible.”
Teaching was a way for Greene to further understand his own process. “I think being able to break it down has made me engage with the issues of art on a much deeper level,” he said.
In his class, Greene makes an effort to expose his students to a variety of painting styles by showcasing the work of several different artists.
One student, Gwendolyn Walsh ’19, appreciates his ability to give feedback while allowing each student to develop their personal style. “He can still give advice without turning [your work] into exactly what he demonstrated,” she said.
Greene’s class is currently focusing on painting from observation, using monochromatic still-life as their subjects.
“I’m really looking forward to figure drawing. I think it’s a lot more interesting than still life,” said Walsh.
Greene is currently showcasing his work at Mingo Gallery in Beverly, MA and at David and Schweitzer Contemporary in Brooklyn, NY. He’s also working on an upcoming exhibition with sculptor Lisa Crallé in Oakland, CA.