Sim Van der Ryn is a world-renowned architect, visionary, author, educator, speaker and public leader who has been integrating ecological principles into the built environment for more than 40 years. Throughout his career, Van der Ryn has turned to watercolors – his ”meditations ‘ – to reinforce his spiritual connection to nature.
A professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1961 to 1996 (now Emeritus), he also served as California’s State Architect from 1975 to 1979, and has won numerous honors and awards. The most recent, a Rockefeller Fellowship in Bellagio, Italy, in May 2013 provided the settings for most of the watercolors in this exhibition.
The Van der Ryn family fled the Netherlands in 1939, settling in Kew Gardens, Queens (New York). The tragedies that he and his family left behind, along with his experiences in nature, implanted a lifelong concern for social justice, equity, and ecology.
Of his watercolors, he says: “For me, painting is a meditation on nature, recording what I see, and using this fluid technique to quickly capture my impressions of the essence of nature wherever I am. An early lesson I learned was not to paint “objects” but to focus on overall form, on where one edge meets another. The half hour to an hour of sitting in stillness while painting is a form of meditation, connection to the inner self and a natural setting focused only on the present. People LOOK from inside a place in their heads. We only SEE with all our being - watercolor painting is a way of being in the moment, a fluid, flowing form capturing light.”
Van der Ryn has authored or co-authored seven cutting-edge books, including his most recent, “Design for Life” (2006). Others are “Ecological Design” (1996) with Stuart Cowan, “The Toilet Papers” (his first that promoted composting toilets), and “Sustainable Communities” with Peter Calthorpe, His newest book, “Design for an Emphatic World: Reconnecting People, Nature, and Self,” is expected to be out in October 2013 and is illustrated with a number of his watercolors.
Website by Werner Glinka