A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Darren studied visual art from an early age, often a means of expressing his captivation with the physical and biological world. He continued to explore his environmental and artistic interests during his college years at Stanford, where he studied ecology, geology, botany, photography, painting, urban design, and art history. A semester abroad in Madagascar focusing on ecology and conservation, and several months in Peru creating a guidebook on Amazonian palms solidified the growing realization that his ecological and geological interests, more driven by idealized versions of environments than their functional complexities, were more aesthetic than scientific.
Believing that a design career would allow him to construct real-life versions of these idealized places, Darren earned a Master in Landscape Architecture from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and entered private practice. The profession proved to be a good fit in many ways, but he quickly learned that due to the practical requirements of designing usable spaces for actual clients, most of his visions could not be realized out in the real world. Darren’s work is nevertheless strongly informed by landscape architecture’s aim of bringing clarity and order to the physical environment. He thinks of himself as a designer or environmental artist constrained (so far) to standard artistic formats rather than a painter depicting scenery in a traditional, stand-alone sense.
Since mid-2016 Darren has been taking a break from landscape architecture to focus on his worldviews. A resident of San Francisco, he is represented by Hang Art gallery and has exhibited in solo and group shows locally and nationally. In 2017 he participated in month-long artist residencies in Iceland and Tasmania.
Harvard University. Cambridge, MA. 2001-2004.
Master in Landscape Architecture, First Professional Degree program.
Stanford University. Stanford, CA. 1996-2000.
B.A. With Distinction in Human Biology; concentration in “Human and Biological Diversity.”
Phi Beta Kappa.
College Semester Abroad program, “Madagascar: Ecology and Conservation.” 1998.
Offered by the School for International Training, Brattleboro, VT.
Hang Art. San Francisco, CA. 2018-present.
City Art Cooperative Gallery. San Francisco, CA. 2017-2018.
Mountain Seas Art and Wilderness Retreat. Flinders Island, Australia. 2017.
Gullkistan Center for Creativity. Laugarvatn, Iceland. 2017.
Ecological Niche (duo exhibition). Hang Art. San Francisco, CA. 2019.
Climate Art Show (group exhibition). Earth Action Initiative Conference, UC Berkeley. Berkeley, CA. 2019.
ArtSpan Benefit Art Auction (group exhibition). San Francisco, CA. 2019.
CONTEXT ArtMiami (Hang Art group exhibition). Miami, FL. 2018.
Isolations (solo exhibition). The Source LGBT+ Center. Visalia, CA. 2018.
2017 Northstar Watermedia Society National Exhibition (national juried exhibition). Blaine City Center. Blaine, MN. 2017.
Art-in-Neighborhoods Exhibitions. Mission Bowling Club, Ritual Coffee, Hotel Adagio, The Marker Hotel, and The Mosser Hotel. San Francisco, CA. 2016-2017.
SNAP! (Bay Area juried exhibition). Arc Gallery & Studios. San Francisco, CA. 2017.
2nd Annual Landscapes (international juried online exhibition). Fusion Art. Palm Springs, CA. 2017.
Fusion (national juried exhibition). Arc Gallery & Studios. San Francisco, CA. 2015.
Earth Compressions (solo exhibition). Guren Art Gallery, The Cleveland Botanical Garden. Cleveland, OH. 2011.
University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center (institutional collection). Beachwood, OH. Installed 2010.
74th National Midyear Show (national juried exhibition). The Butler institute of American Art. Youngstown, OH. 2010.
Gateway to Imagination (national juried exhibition). The Farmington Museum. Farmington, NM. 2010.
3rd Place. The Natural World (international juried online exhibition). Fusion Art. 2017.
Special Merit Award. Seacoasts (international juried online exhibition). Light Space & Time Online Gallery. 2016.
Special Merit Award. Open (international juried online exhibition). Light Space & Time Online Gallery. 2016.
Special Merit Award. Nature (international juried online exhibition). Light Space & Time Online Gallery. 2016.
Special Merit Award. Landscapes (international juried online exhibition). Light Space & Time Online Gallery. 2016.
Darren Sears, “The Other Urban Jungle,” essay in My Liveable City. July-September 2018.
4th International Emerging Artist Award, 2016 Best of IEAA (short-listed submissions). 2016.
Trudy Wiesenberger, Artwork from the Collection of University Hospitals (featured artwork). 2016.
Associate and Senior Designer. Terrain Studio. San Francisco, CA. 2014-2016.
• Led design and production efforts for plazas, gardens, and parks from concept through design development.
• Collaborated with environmental engineers to restore degraded waterways and design riparian habitats.
• Projects: Xing Yuan Lake New Town Parks and Waterways (Hanzhong, PRC); Nanjing Youth Olympic Park (Nanjing, PRC); Longfor Mixed-Use Retail Development (Chongqing, PRC).
Designer. SWA Group. Sausalito, CA. 2010-2014
• Led master planning of the 100-ha Envision Smart Energy Campus (Nanjing, PRC), a mixed-use campus focused on developing and showcasing innovations in renewable energy generation.
• Researched and designed a restored rainforest for the 23-ha Shuangda Qixianling Rainforest Resort (Baoting, PRC).
• Other projects: Ningbo Waterfront Master Plan, Ningbo Civic Plaza, Ningbo Eastern New Town Government Center (Ningbo, PRC).
Director of Design. Han Group Associates. New York, NY. 2009.
• Supervised design and production on an international design competition entry for the 2013 International Garden Expo in Suncheon, Korea.
Designer. Martha Schwartz Partners. Cambridge, MA. 2007-2008; 2002 & 2003.
• Took a leading role in the concept-level design and presentation of master plans and public parks in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Costa Rica, Korea, and the UK, including design workshops with clients and architects.
Designer. SWA Group. Dallas, TX. 2004-2007.
CONFERENCES & RESEARCH
Conference Co-organizer, Galápagos to the World: Evolution and Ecocities in Earth Year 2020, convened by Ecocity World (not realized for lack of funding). 2018-2019.
• Developed vision statement and thematic framework exploring past, present and future links between evolution and sustainable design, in the Galápagos Islands and worldwide.
• Wrote text for and designed conference brochure and Ecocity World website.
Conference Paper, “Image of the Ecosystem: Planting, Identity and Environmental Consciousness.” The Death and Life of Social Factors: A Conference Reexamining Bahavior and Cultural Research in Environmental Design; UC Berkeley. 2011.
Conference and Exhibition Case Study: Parque Nacional da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Large Parks, New Perspectives; Harvard GSD. Penny White Travel Grant. 2002-2003.
• Researched, diagrammed and illustrated ecological, cultural, sociological, and historical aspects of the world’s largest urban park and replanted tropical rainforest.
• Photographed park landscapes, collected archival materials and interviewed park personnel.
Research for guidebook, The Palms of Posada Amazonas and the Tambopata Research Center. Peruvian Amazon. 2001.
• Created a guidebook for tourists at two eco-tourist lodges operated by Rainforest Expeditions.
• Identified species and studied their distributions and abundances in the surrounding rainforest.
• Interviewed members of the Native Community in Spanish on their uses of palms.