Stephen Lapthisophon is an American artist and educator working in the field of conceptual art, critical theory and disability studies. His early work combined poetry, performance, sound art and visual art with postmodern philosophical concerns. He was influenced by the legacy of the Situationists, who sought to make everyday life a focus of artistic activity. In 1994 he suffered a major deterioration of his vision due to an optic nerve disease, and became legally blind after intensive medical treatment. His subsequent work as an installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist and sound artist has been marked by this experience. Much of his work comments on, and seeks to redress, the over-emphasis on the sense of sight in aesthetic culture.
In his most recent work, Lapthisophon incorporates everyday objects as a means of breaking down the barriers between his art and daily life. His use of found objects such as string, cloth, leaves or egg shells, as well as food materials including coffee, cinnamon or saffron, challenges our ideas of permanence and process as they relate to art making. In doing so, he exalts the everyday and attempts to slow time in order to look longer and unpack hard-to-find meanings and forgotten histories. His mixed media works combine text and letterforms to create poetic improvisations inspired by and referring to deeply buried literary sources.
Lapthisophon received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1979), and his BFA from the University of Texas in Austin. He also studied Comparative Literature and Theory at the Northwestern University. He has exhibited extensively across the United States, including in recent exhibitions at Nasher Sculpture Garden and Goss Michael Foundation in Dallas, and in a solo exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2013/2014. He has been included in international exhibitions in Sweden, Germany, Spain, France and the UK. He currently teaches art and art history at the University of Texas at Arlington. He has been the recipient of several grants and residencies. Lapthisophon is also represented by Conduit Gallery in Dallas where he currently lives and works with his wife Erica.