I am a storyteller without words. I paint our stories.
Alicia R Peterson, Doctor of Audiology, began painting voraciously in 1994 when out of the blue came the call. After nearly two decades of keeping her work private, she launched out into the world in 2013. She retired as an audiologist, began exhibiting her work and started her studies with Stan Brodsky.
She births her creations at her North Shore Long Island, New York, studio. Forsaking paint brushes she throws, drips and flows paint. Embracing abstract art, she paints the inside story.
Alicia realized that it has always been about voices: giving others voice and finding her voice through painting.
Future work: What if we all fit together as one?
A series of triangles that fit together to form the whole. Beauty in each. Beauty in melding. I paint our hope.
I jumped into the painting pool in 1994 with no formal art training. I had no interest in painting what I saw with my eyes. I was compelled to paint the inside story.
I paint infinity
The place inside us all where the world falls away, and we are boundless. I paint so that you may know your infinity.
(Can you tell my first academic degree was in Women’s Studies?)
The voice inside my head would not be silenced.
Out of the blue in 1994, I was commanded to paint. Over and over, I heard only a single word, “PAINT!” I ignored the voice, but it became louder and louder… relentlessly taking over my life.
I argued back with the voice, “I am a Doctor of Audiology. I have never painted in my life, and you can’t make me!”
In desperation… feeling on the brink of crazy, I went to my local art supply store and was guided by a seasoned painter to choose acrylic paints. I have painted voraciously ever since.
Without knowing how, without thought, I began to paint. The voice inside my head silenced.
I saw my story slowly unfold on my canvas. It was a story I did not know.
What emerged on my canvas was an airless dank void. I felt unable to move with the weight of memories trapped. I did not have words for what was buried inside me, but I could paint it.
The voice—my inner Buddha—commanding me to paint coincided with a time in my life when I thought my light had been extinguished.
But in creation, I saw sparkle in the darkness of my paintings… always present… even if in just the tiniest corner of my work. I knew my light was still there, I had seen it.
On my canvas, I found a sacred space for shadow to emerge. I found truth and clarity. I was transmuted.
But I kept silent for two decades. I was convinced that no one would find beauty in the shadow and the light of my work. Convinced that being in the public eye would destroy me. Convinced that my fear was stronger than my art.
But my story does not start with the call to paint. I am a native New York City gal from the Lower East Side (before it was hip).
I entered the State University of New York at Binghamton at age 16 after graduating from the Bronx High School of Science. Yes, I am a keener.
In my first semester I became fascinated with the field of Biopsychology. I helped pay for my education as a lab assistant, running rats and mice through mazes to investigate the effects of various brain lesions.
Midcourse, I realized that although I was captivated by the workings of the brain, I had way less interest and talent for the rigors of neuroanatomy.
I had a heart-to-heart with myself and realized I wanted to help change the world.
I became the first Women’s Studies major at Binghamton University and interned for two years at the Binghamton Rape Crisis Center.
Because of the nature of that work, big time fear set in. I began martial arts training with Sensei Hidy Ochiai studying Washin-ryu Karate-Do. I practiced kata (pre-arranged techniques) and sparring (free form exchange with a partner).
The buzz from the men’s locker room was, “Watch out for Peterson’s side kick,” and “She does not like to lose [in sparring matches] to men.”
Yes, I will admit to having a chip on my shoulder when it came to men at the dojo. I know now that it was a fear-based chip, and FYI, I have lost that chip.
When I graduated from university, I knew I could not continue being an activist for ending violence. It felt too close. I could not separate from my work.
I returned to my first love—science—which led to a career in Audiology, the diagnosis and rehabilitation of hearing loss.
Through three decades of work, I gave children and adults with hearing loss a voice.
I remain honored to be a Doctor of Audiology and I will talk shop with you if you ask, perhaps for too long. But I would rather talk about my art.
Since the call to paint in 1994, I was an Audiologist by day and a painter by night, weekend, and every moment I could find. I kept my work private, painting voraciously in solitude.
In 2013, I experienced a bone-deep sadness that I was alone with my paintings. Where before I was comforted to be surrounded by my work, I now had a cavernous longing to be seen and heard.
The fear of sharing my story remained but my visual voice was louder. My voice had found light.
I had a certainty that I must pursue my art as a profession. I jumped off a cliff and quit my job as an Audiologist. My glorious life as an artist–entrepreneur began.
I was, oh, so wobbly on my feet. It was very frightening to give up a field I loved, a steady paycheck, and health benefits.
I began taking business classes, and after incorporating Alicia R Peterson Art, I started my studies with eminent painter Stan Brodsky at the Art League of Long Island.
I conferred with my team of financial advisor, CPA, and lawyer, and invested in myself.
I knew I had picked my life’s work when I went to the worst-case scenario…. Even if I ended up in a hovel eating cat food, with no money for paints, using sticks to draw in the dust on the streets of Manhattan, I would have no regrets.
But don’t worry, that didn’t happen.
I now know that art is bigger than the self. That my fears of standing tall in creation diminished not only me, but the world. Art has the power to transmute. I stand tall and blossoming as an abstract painter.
Line, color, and space connect us. Do you hear your story?
I started out square.
But in 2015 I was pulled to paint on circles and ovals with convex edges. I felt like I had come home. Due to nature of convex forms, the painting extends to your wall without edges, flowing with beauty and peace.
Convex edges. Are you an edge walker too?
What has evolved in the center of my painting universe?
Oh, have I needed air as an antidote to the constriction I feel within and without. May we find breathing room.
I am pondering peace and pouring paints
I am fascinated by interactions of colors. How they get along. How they don’t get along. If all colors could dance together, what would that look like? I paint our future.
What if we ALL had a way to tell our stories? I am painting a new story for myself and our world.
I had resisted working in series for most of my painting life, despite the counsel of my mentor, the late great Stan Brodsky. Every time a particular painting “hit the jackpot,” invariably Stan would declare, “Start a series!” I would grumble inside my head. If I had “hit the jackpot” why did I need to continue in this vein? I was ready to move on! I don’t like being told what to do.
I was wrong. I found serenity and expansion painting a path of a limited palette. Lesson learned.
I have become SQUARE again!
Gasp! Not everyone is a fan of circles and ovals!
Trusted colleagues, family, and friends have (mostly) politely let me know this. “Alicia, I am not a round edged person; I want the hard edges.”
We all need boundaries. I do listen (mostly). So, I have birthed a small collection of hard-edged works.
One way I fuel my creative fires is through applied improvisation. In improv it’s all about deeply listening to, supporting, and making your partner look good. It’s not about being the shining star. Ok, I will admit I had some trouble with that part… because I want to be the shining star. My wise teacher Jude Tredor Wolfe of Lifestage would say it’s about having the whole group shine. And, oh, do we shine together. What if we could all shine together? What if we all had each other’s back?
The study of spontaneity… (yes that does sound strange) has catalyzed my painting process. I take more risks in life and paint. I view experimenting and failing as the path to peace and adventure.
All You Need is Love… and Paint
Are you needing more love?
Share in our wedding day at https://vimeo.com/aliciarpeterson
Prepare to happy cry. We all need more joy.
At 8 min. 40 secs., you will hear: “An Artist walks into a bar,” the story of how we first connected.