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Stephen Durkee was born in 1938 in Warwick, New York and is a self-taught artist whose work reflects nostalgia for American life in the 1940s and 1950s. His work is characterized by poignant compositions of color fields, signs, insignias of popular culture and antiquated imagery. He moved to New York City in 1956, establishing a studio on Fulton Street once belonging to Robert Rauchenberg. In 1961, his work was included in the groundbreaking Museum of Modern Art exhibition, The Art of Assemblage, curated by director William C. Seitz. In 1962, the critic Gene Swenson included Durkee, along with Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, and Robert Indiana, in an ARTnews article, 'The New American Sign Painters.'
Durkee was a founding member of the media art collective/commune USCO in Garnerville, New York and in 1966 he moved to New Mexico with his wife, where they founded an interfaith spiritual collective called Lama Foundation. In 1970, a trip to the Middle-East introduced him to Islam and when he returned to the United States, he began intensive studies at the Islamic Sufi Center in San Cristobal, New Mexico. Since, he has devoted his life to studying the religion, its architecture, the science of inner contemplation and translating, editing and publishing books on these subjects, becoming a leading scholar of Islam in the western world. He currently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he established The Green Mountain School in 1995.