Randall Stoltzfus learned to cross-stitch, garden, and paint houses from his Mennonite family in rural Virginia before graduating with the highest distinction from UVA in 1993. Now he works in a studio in Brooklyn, where he makes art about light constructed through multitudes of hand-painted circles.
Chasing The Light
We’re all a part of something bigger than ourselves. Each of us, whether we realize it or not, is surrounded by our own light, which, in turn, contributes to a collective light so vast that it is easily overlooked.
This phenomenon of light — and our cooperation in creating it — are the subjects of Randall Stoltzfus’ art. “Light is so important to what I do as a painter. We need it in order to see. Without light, my paintings would not express anything.” When seen, the expressions in Stoltzfus’ canvas spark light inside of each of us.
From their first appearance in one of his paintings in 1996, Stoltzfus has experimented with circles as a language for his art. By layering multitudes of circles, he builds subtle abstract forms that vibrate with light and unfold into otherworldly landscapes. No two of his circles are the same, differing in texture, color, size, and the unique marks left by the artist’s hand. Sometimes, Stoltzfus uses gold-leaf to add yet another dimension of radiance.
These many layers of circles, no matter if they are visible or hidden, reveal something greater than their sum as they coalesce to make the unseen visible. They communicate the artist’s inner feelings about the world.. “Our eyes are circular -- the circle is the shape that enables us to see.” Stoltzfus said. Influenced by his Mennonite upbringing, Stoltzfus’ circles show his deep affection for the natural world and his unease with the manufactured world - like this rectangular screen, its repetitive pixels, and the angular mass-produced goods that dot our environment.
Stoltzfus’ artworks evoke a sense of personal responsibility. His art reminds us that everybody brings light into the world and that by working together we can illuminate something much greater than ourselves.