Marzie Nejad

Please click here to read Edward Gomez's review of her work for

Marzie Nejad was initially influenced by a stack of postcards of paintings by a group of Russian artists called the travelers, which her brother had presented to her. The family home in Tehran had murals painted on the walls, which were early influences in her artistic development as well. Materials for painting were provided by her brother for copying postcards of masterpieces.

After she attended college, medical school, and had moved to the United States, she discovered the art supply store Pearl Paint. This unearthed her deep seated artistic talent. Mostly inspired by early morning visions, she managed to create a significant body of work, beginning about 1982, between her duties as a mother and her profession as a doctor. The basis of her work contains both beauty and destructiveness, revealing the dichotomy of her vision.

Jon Serl (American, 1898 - 1993)

"Once every week or two, I sit still for a half-hour or so and ask: Who am I? And every time I arrive at the same thing: I'm a crazy man." Jon Serl, quoted in Robert L. Pincus, "The World According to Serl," The San Diego Union, January 18, 1987

Jon Serl, an American self-taught artist, grew up traveling and performing in his family's vaudeville theater troupe. He took up painting during World War II and started pursuing it in earnest at the start of the 1950's. His figures have a signature elongation, and his tableaux have a dramatic, stage-like feel, harkening back to his early days in the theater. Serl worked in oil on Masonite, board, and canvas. His work is in the collections of the American Folk Art Museum, New York as well as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

Emil Bisttram (American, 1895 - 1976)

Profoundly spiritual and convinced that all intellectual disciplines lead to divine truth, Bisttram enriched his compositions with references to such varied subjects as electricity, rebirth, the growth of plants, the healing power of the dance, planetary forces, the fourth dimension, and the male and female principles of nature.

J.B. Murry (American, 1908 - 1988)

J.B. Murry was an African-American tenant farmer and mystic who created drawings and writings containing what he called "spirit script". A product of rural black Georgia at the turn of the century, Murry was tied to the land by his lack of education. He was strongly influenced by religious practices and by the Bible, which he could not read. From the age of six until the late 1970's, when illness caught up with him, Murry worked on Georgia farms in numerous capacities.

In the 1970's Murry had a profound religious experience. He created drawings with complex abstract patterning that served as aids to meditation and divination. He was befriended by William Rawlings, Jr., who met him in 1979. It was Rawlings who originally arranged for the first exhibitions of Murry's work.

Murry wrote in tongues, composing spiritual messages that only he could read by looking at his script through a bottle of holy water which he held over the paper like a magnifying glass. Chants or prayers would often accompany his readings. Murry believed God directed his writing and drawing.

Murry's work has been included in numerous exhibitions (including the Corcoran Biennial in 1989), and is included in numerous private and public collections, including the Museum of American Folk Art in New York.

George Ault (American, 1891 - 1948)

George Ault was an American painter, most often associated with the Precisionist movement because of his simplified and unadorned representations of architecture. He drew and painted his surroundings with a focus on the underlying geometry of structures.

Oskar Jonsson (Icelandic, 1922 - 1997)

Oskar Jonsson started making metal collages from pieces of Colorcoat, which was manufactured at the factory where he worked before retiring at age 67. Colorcoat is a combination of colorful linoleum covered aluminum used as siding for homes. His designs were sometimes premeditated, in which he would first draw the image on paper. However, the image usually evolved into something else. He was at first limited by the size of the pieces of Colorcoat that he was able to get, making the work more geometric and therefore more abstract. As larger pieces of Colorcoat became available, he shaped and manipulated the forms more freely. The excess material cut away, often would become the basis for another composition. Jónsson's subject matter includes pure geometric abstraction, floral abstraction, and abstracted figuration.