James Siena - Backs I (Ron Rico)
American, b.1957
Backs I (Ron Rico), 2007
4-color lithograph, 23.5 x 24.5 inches
Edition 16/32
Universal Limited Art Editions

Alumni Gift

Born in California, James Siena came to the East Coast in 1975 to study at Cornell University where he received his BFA in 1979. Twenty years later he received the prestigious Tiffany Foundation Grant and in 2000 was given an Art award by the American Academy of Arts. Siena started making abstract paintings with an aesthetic that sought inspiration from Artificial Intelligence (AI). For years he has been investigating the imaginary space of programmers' source and patterns through paint. At first glance the images could be labeled as decorative puzzles or labyrinths but there is a logic base for each painting. "I don't make marks, I make moves. The reality of abstraction is my primary point of engagement. When I make a painting, I respond to a set of parameters, like a visual algorithm."

Siena discovered lithographic stones used to print old cigar labels at ULAE and decided to use those as the background for his prints. After drawing around the old labels, the artist tore up his proofs to make new, very spare compositions, completely different in design than the intricate mazes that characterize his drawings and paintings. The trapezoidal shapes have frames designed by the artist.