Neil Grayson (b. 1968) is a New York City based artist working primarily in oil on canvas and charcoal/metal oxidation on paper, whose perennial obsession with chiaroscuro, reflection, light and depth, entropy and complexity is evident in both his methods and his themes. At twenty-two, Grayson was noted as a "formidable talent" with "fierce visions for our times", who, having mastered the science of 17th century low major key painting, was struggling to achieve depth without darkness (ArtNews, 1991). Turning to high major key in 1993, Grayson, now a "late-century illuminatory", produced several series of paintings that combined gravity with light (Art in America, 1998). In 2009, Angus Fletcher remarked that Grayson's paintings epitomize "alchemy... exploring a paradoxical, phase-transitional state, the linking of matter and light."
This exploration led Grayson to his "Industrial Melanism" series. "Industrial Melanism" refers to the change in color of the peppered moth - from white with black speckles to entirely black - during the Industrial Revolution, and remains one of the clearest examples in which the evolutionary process has been observed. The moths, formerly camouflaged on trees with white lichens, became easy prey as the trees darkened from heavy soot emissions. Within a human's life-time, scientists observed the moths evolve darker pigment in order to remain camouflaged. In Grayson's exploration of the topic, he toys with the concept of reinvention and transformation, using the varying oxidation rates of silver and white gold to create dimensionality and movement, taking advantage of the sudden changes in hue of the reflective metal surfaces from the viewer's changing perspective.
Grayson is currently working on an extension of the "Industrial Melanism" theme and continues to innovate techniques in order to integrate his scientific ideas into his art.