Hap Tivey


Before graduating from Pomona College in 1969, Hap Tivey (B.A., Pomona College; M.F.A., Claremont Graduate School) began creating light structures as sculpture. Often considered one of the original Los Angles light artists he created seminal light installations during the seventies and collaborated on projects with Doug Wheeler and James Turrell. Tivey received his MFA in Fine Art and MA in Photography from Claremont Graduate School, and opened his first studio in Pasadena where visitors could encounter empty fields of light as subjective experience rather than objective art. He then made an unusual journey to Japan. As a Zen monk in the first generation of American practitioners, he played a fundamental role in rehabilitating a major Zen monastery in Kyoto that had been closed since the end of World War II. The abbot of Tofuku-ji Monastery, Roshi Fukushima, recognized Tivey as his first disciple in his book “Living Here in the Present Moment with Clear Mind”. Tivey left monastic life and returned to the U.S. to continue pioneering the phenomena of light as concrete experience. He moved to New York, where he continued investigating the emotional and theoretical implications that light provides. His light sculptures and installations have mysterious qualities, some with intensely saturated colors, others with calm and apparently infinite depth. Memorable installations include columns of light over water in Christophe de Menil’s Frank Gehry house and Claude Picasso’s tearoom in Paris. His work has been collected by more than a dozen museums, including MOMA and the Guggenheim. In 1977, New York magazine featured twelve young cutting-edge visual artists. Among them were Judy Pfaff, recent chair of the Studio Arts Program at Bard College, and Hap Tivey, Bard’s artist in residence 2000 through 2015. Judy and Hap began their friendship in those exciting days of Soho’s art explosion and maintained it through careers that spanned five decades producing long lists of shows, reviews and teaching appointments. When Judy brought him to Bard, he began teaching what he called Cybergraphics, a term he invented in 1995 when he introduced Photoshop 3.0 computer based art to Bard’s Studio Arts Program. Through it all, Tivey maintained an authentic Zen practice, raised two children and pursued wilderness adventures, including summiting Mount Denali. He is currently married to playwright Chiori Miyagawa, lives in New York and maintains studios in Brooklyn and upstate New York.