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Alchemical Vessels 125 Artists Explore the Concept of Healing Space
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ÂŠ 2015 Joan Hisaoka Healing Ar ts Gallery at Smith Center for Healing and the Ar ts ISBN: 978-0-9894094-1-4
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Dedicated to Michael Lerner, with gratitude
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Gallery Founded in 2008, the Joan Hisaoka Healing Ar ts Gallery at Smith Center for Healing and the Ar ts, is a nonprofit ar ts space in Washington, D.C. dedicated to exhibiting fine ar t that explores the innate connection between healing and creativity. Ar t can mend social, psychological, and physical ills by building community, inspiring change, and celebrating life. A rotating exhibition schedule features contemporary, international and national ar tists addressing a diversity of significant themes, such as spirituality, social change, multiculturalism, health, environmentalism, and community. To learn more visit, smithcenter.org/gallery
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Smith Center for Healing and the Arts is a nonprofit health, education, and arts organization with a mission to develop and promote healing practices that explore physical, emotional, and mental resources that lead to life-affirming changes for people affected by cancer. Our work is based on a single profound idea â€“ everyone harbors the innate ability to heal even in the face of lifeâ€™s most serious challenges, and that ability to heal is enhanced by holistic approaches that include the healing power of the arts. We offer empowering programs and activities for adult survivors and caregivers, as well as support and creative resources for the community at large through our Integrative Patient Navigation Services; Weeklong and One-Day Cancer Retreats; Artist-In-Residence Program; exhibitions and lectures in the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery; Community Resource Center; and ongoing programs, classes and workshops at our U Street facility.
Smith Center for Healing and the Ar ts 1632 U Street, NW Washington, DC 20009 www.smithcenter.org 202.483.8600
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Introduction by Shanti Norris
Welcome to the third Alchemical Vessels exhibition catalogue. And welcome back to those who have traveled on this journey with us before. Alchemical Vessels 2015 is the product of 125 Washington, DC area ar tists selected by 20 curators. The theme of the exhibit is healing as well as the concept of a container or vessel that ‘promotes’ and contains the transformative process. In the physical science of alchemy, the early chemists worked to transform base metal into precious gold. To do that they required a strong vessel that could withstand the heat and pressure required for this transformation. The vessel was an essential ingredient in the alchemy. In almost every mythology, there is a miraculous vessel, both life-giving and nourishing. The vessel represents the mystery of life. The vessel is both mother and ear th. A vessel of and for the spirit, the alchemical container is no mere physical apparatus, but rather a mystical idea, a primal image, and a genuine symbol expressing something of real value within the very psyche that produced it. In the words of the first woman alchemist Maria Prophetissa, “The whole secret is in learning about the Hermetic Vessel.” Carl Jung was one of the first to suggest the ancient concept of alchemy as a profound metaphor for psychological growth and transformation. There are a number of stages in the alchemical process (the origins of modern chemistry). In the first Nigredo stage everything turns black and is rotting. This is the necessary stage of breaking down, the destruction that begins the process of regeneration. In psychological terms it is the struggle itself, the suffering that begins the journey of healing. In personal terms, we must each face these moments that often include the expression of fear, anger, distress or pain – the so-called negative emotions. If por trayed (or experienced or voiced) honestly, this often leads to a catharsis or moving forward. As the Persian poet Rumi says: “ Where there is ruin, there is a hope for treasure.”
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Next comes Aurora, or purification. It involves the ability to discern, perhaps to not take things so personally, to begin to accept one’s suffering, the dawning of the light of understanding. From here we move towards the third and final stage, Rubedo. This is the marriage of opposites – integration, wisdom. It is the finding of the light within the darkness and the integration of the unconscious with the conscious. Although it is a return to wholeness, it is not a return to the same self – but a new enlightened, wiser self. The mission of the ar tist is similar to that of the alchemist. Ar tists take basic materials and work with them to create something beautiful which requires an understanding of materials. They transform rough materials into something completely new and different, which prompts an experience of insight in the viewer. They infuse their creations with their own creative energy and power. By seeing the vessel – or Holy Grail, we are transformed – we imbibe the consciousness that is contained in the vessel. The vessel itself becomes a uterus for the renewal and rebir th of the viewer. Upon seeing the vessels this year, ar tist and curator Sondra Arkin remarked ‘The ar tists completely disrespected the bowl!’ She meant this as the deepest compliment - that each ar tist took the challenge and made it her own. This is as it should be and we could not be happier with the extraordinary works in this exhibition. I want to thank each of the ar tists and curators who created Alchemical Vessels 2015. I also want to thank the Washington, DC Commission on the Ar ts and Humanities for their suppor t of this exhibit, our amazing planning committee and the completely remarkable staff of Smith Center for making all of this possible. Shanti Norris Smith Center Co-Founder and Executive Director Founder, The Joan Hisaoka Healing Ar ts Gallery
What we should do with the empty bowl by Ethelbert Miller I. BOWL
is required to pull something from a hat or place something inside a bowl?
And then mindfulness enters the mind and for a moment nothing matters except the cutting...
IV. Have we forgotten the proper incantations? Why so much noise and recycled racism? Why a willingness to prevent a Gay marriage? What’s at the bottom of our bowls? Are we ready for communion? Will we ever be able to sit at a table and have deep dish conversations?
I prepare a salad for dinner. A simple meal. food fitting into one bowl. Leaves of lettuce, red peppers, yellow peppers, onion, avocado, tomato, basil, oregano black pepper – Italian dressing. A shor t prayer and then the movement of fork to mouth. The chewing and the taste of goodness. Then the small act of giving thanks to the bowl for sharing. II. We are living in a world in which fluidity has washed a way borders and definitions. It is often difficult to measure the speed of history and one is for tunate these days not to be detained and overcome by a deep sleep or the mystical presence of an impenetrable creeping fog. There is something so medieval about our mornings. Maybe it’s the result of so many religious conflicts and killings around the world. The problem of the 21st Century has unfor tunately become the clash between faiths. God is a metaphor I have yet to use in a poem. III. One might define healing as the seeking of a way to no urish the soul. There is so much hunger in our world and much of it has nothing to do with food. The pover ty of the spirit is what we now suffer from. There is too much desolation and black silence in our music. At times it feels as if John Coltrane was never born and our ears have yet to hear the first notes of “ A Love Supreme.” Music is a vessel that can help one reach a destination. But where are we going and what are we leaving behind? There is a cer tain degree of nakedness that must always be associated with change. There is the mysterious unknown and the sensual seduction of the new. The ar tist is the first to depar t from blueprints and maps. One is guided by faith. Let us praise the ar tist who is also a magician. What skill
V. I once told a friend she must go in search of her bowl. If she found it she should handle it with care. It should become the focus of all her attention. To find one’s bowl or vessel is to look into the mirror of life for the first time. There is no innocence or sin. The bowl does not judge but it can be broken. I am sadden by all the things around the world that have been destroyed. Large Buddhas and holy mosques. Place our hear ts on the list also; too many countries broken and in need of repair. Count the number of refugee camps. Count the number of vessels filled with immigrants that never reach a welcoming shore. As an ar tist I want to build bridges not walls. I want the bowl to be placed on an altar. I want the soul to be a candle and love a match. What is the metaphor for flame? VI. Every color has a taste and smell. The blues are often felt. There is a language we have yet to speak. The ar tist must paint the things that come before imagination. We must become architects or maybe what William Deresiewicz calls creative entrepreneurs. James Baldwin once spoke about the price of the ticket. But what is the price of the bowl? Are we capable of dreaming once again or are we simply consumers? As citizens and lovers we must learn to honor and praise the vessel. The bowl like democracy is a fragile and sacred thing; a metaphor that struggles to breathe each century. Oh, can’t you see how the sweet air fills everything which desires to be held? E. Ethelber t Miller December 25, 2014 Alchemical Vessels 9
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When Is a Bowl Not a Bowl? by Michael O’Sullivan
Every year since 2013, a group of ar tists receives an invitation from the Smith Center for Healing and the Ar ts to par ticipate in an annual benefit exhibition, “Alchemical Vessels.” The invite comes with a catch, in the form of a simple ceramic bowl. This plain white vessel, about the size of a medium serving bowl, is meant to be used as the formal basis for, or conceptual underpinning behind, a unique work of ar t. Selected by 20 curators, this year’s ar tists responded to the challenge with 125 bowls. For most of these ar tists, the bowl acts as a canvas or sculptural armature. In a handful of cases, the presence of the bowl is merely implied, like the presence of vermouth in an extra-dry mar tini (which a wag once famously defined as “whispering the word ‘vermouth’ as you pour out the gin”). There is no physical bowl, for instance, in “unfill,” a conceptual video piece by Red Dir t Studio showing several bowl-shaped holes being carved into deep snow. Nate Lewis’s “I found freedom in boundaries” is a single sheet of cut paper, sculpted into a vaguely bowl-like form. Similarly, Rhoda Baer’s “The Journey” is a glass sculpture formed in the negative space inside a bowl, but minus the basin in which it was cast. Ar tist Jenny Wu completely destroyed her bowl, documenting the performance in a photographic triptych that cheekily references Ai Weiwei’s “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.” Whoever said laughter is the best medicine probably did not have this form of healing in mind. But, hey, why not? Ruth Trevarrow and Cory Oberndorfer also smashed their bowls, before going on to repair them in ways that reference, respectively, the Japanese ar t of kintsugi — which honors breakage as par t of an object’s history — and, if only obliquely, our imperfect ability to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The themes of metamorphosis, healing and repair run throughout “Alchemical Vessels.” The bowl is less a physical object than a locus of transformation, a vessel (or, more accurately, an agent) of change. Acceptance of impermanence, and, at times, our own powerlessness, is par t of that. Paradoxically, this knowledge can be empowering. “Alchemical Vessels 2015” is filled with diverse ar tistic approaches. For Kelly Towles, the bowl is a mask. For Margo Elsayd and Julia Bloom, a nest. For Carol Brown Goldberg, Bridget Sue Lamber t, Susan Finsen and Michael Holt, it’s a landscape. Materials used by this year’s ar tists include cat whiskers, blood, reindeer moss and, in the case of Jeneen Piccuirro’s “Into the luminous dark,” something as intangible as prayer. As with several other ar tists, Sharon Wolpoff ’s bowl incorporates text, spelling out a fragment of poetry by W.S. Merwin, in beads:
Send me out into another life lord because this one is growing faint I do not think it goes all the way As the show’s official photographer Thomas Wolff put it, “Alchemical Vessels” features “125 different solutions to a single problem.” But what exactly is the problem? On the most elemental level, the question is a formal one: “What should my bowl look like?” The guiding principle behind “Alchemical Vessels” was well ar ticulated by Jasper Johns: “Take an object,” the ar tist famously wrote in his sketchbook. “Do something to it. Do something else to it.’’ The tyranny of the blank slate — or, in this case, the empty bowl — is one that anyone who has ever entered a studio will understand. It’s also a kind of freedom. This year’s solutions to the problem of the empty bowl range from the minimalist to the ornate. At one end of the spectrum are works like Patterson Clark’s “Black Hole,” an Anish Kapoorlike void of spar tan yet velvety blackness created by smudging the interior of a bowl with soot. (As a volunteer land steward, the ar tist uproots invasive plants from public and private lands around Washington, burning them, or using their leaves to make homemade papers and natural dyes). At the other extreme are such works as Sally Kauffman’s “Milagros,” which incorporates dozens of small metal charms —known as milagros, or “miracles,” in Mexico — in the shape of human body par ts. Both of these works are about healing — healing the planet in one case; the body, in the other. One solution references action; the other, faith. George Koch takes a more traditional approach to the healing ar ts, creating an assemblage of discarded pills in his bowl. But an ar twork derives its strength only par tly from the form it takes. Through an act of ar tistic alchemy, the bowls in “Alchemical Vessels” have no longer become bowls, but ideas of bowls. At their best, they don’t offer solutions to problems so much as they create new problems. The questions these ar tworks contain — about life and death; wholeness and ruin; what is known and unknowable in this world; the seen and unseen sides of things — don’t live on the walls, or even in the heads of the people looking at them, but rather in the space between. The alchemist’s search for the philosopher’s stone, said to be able to change base metal into gold, was about the power of transformation. The ar t of “Alchemical Vessels” is also about that. Here, however, the goal isn’t changing the bowl, but the beholder. Michael O’Sullivan Washington Post Staff Writer
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Alchemical Vessels 2015 Curators: Sondra N. Arkin, Ar tist & Independent Curator Philip Barlow, Associate Commissioner, DC Depar tment of Insurance, Securities & Banking; Board Member, District of Columbia Ar ts Center & Millenium Ar ts Salon Chuck Baxter, Ar tist Robert Devers, Professor of Fine Ar ts and Ceramics, Corcoran School of the Ar ts + Design, George Washington University Thomas Drymon, Curator, doris-mae Charlie Gaynor, Realtor and Photographer, member of the Mid City Ar tists Aneta Georgievska-Shine, Lecturer in Ar t History, University of Maryland and Smithsonian Institution George Hemphill, Gallery Director, Hemphill Francie Hester, Visual Ar tist Don Kimes, Professor, Director Studio Ar t Program, American University Depar tment of Ar t; Ar tistic Director, Visual Ar ts at Chautauqua Institution Zofie Lang, Ar tist Mary Liniger, Executive Director, Ar t Enables Akemi Maegawa, Ar tist Jayme McLellan, Director & Founder, Civilian Ar t Projects Twig Murray, Gallery Director, Athenaeum Gallery Victoria Reis, Co-Founder, Executive & Ar tistic Director, Transformer Nancy Sausser, Curator and Exhibitions Director, McLean Project for the Ar ts Andy Shallal, Founder, Busboys and Poets Stan Squirewell, Ar tist Smith Center for Healing and the Arts
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Alchemical Vessels 2015 Artists: David Alfuth Beth Baldwin Rhoda Baer Emily Biondo Ed Bisese Julia Bloom Raya Bodnarchuk Stephanie Booth Joe Bradley Judy Byron F. Lennox Campello Jessica Cebra Mei Mei Chang Hsin-Hsi Chen Patterson Clark Billy Colber t Susan Cole Paula Crawford Michael Crossett Sarah Dale Catherine Day JD Deardourff Jenn DePalma Rober t Devers Jessica Drenk Patricia Dubroof Pam Eichner Dana Ellyn Margo Elsayd Susan Finsen & Michael Holt Sharon Fishel Kathryn Freeman Marcia Fry Emily Fussner Adrienne Gaither Michael Gessner Carol Brown Goldberg Pat Goslee Matthew Grimes Andrea Haffner Cour tney S. Hengerer Jeff Herrity
Maurice “Mo” Higgs Joe Hoffman Jeff Huntington David Ibata Mar tha Jackson Jarvis Rose Jaffe Mariah Anne Johnson Mike Johnson Wayson Jones Maria Karametou Sally Kauffman Elizabeth Kendall Joanne Kent Hana Kim Micheline Klagsbrun Kitty Klaidman PD Klein George Koch Yaroslav Koporulin Peter Krsko Bridget Sue Lamber t Maria Lanas Toni Lane Khánh H. Lê Jun Lee Kyujin Lee Nate Lewis Mimi Logothetis Steve Loya Akemi Maegawa Alex Mayer Donna M. McCullough Kathryn McDonnell Maggie Michael Vanessa Monroe E.J. Montgomery Lucinda Friendly Murphy Ziad Nagy Leslie M. Nolan Frederick Nunley Cory Oberndorfer Anthony Palliparambil, Jr.
John Paradiso Elena Patiño Miguel Perez Lem Brian Petro Jeneen Piccuirro Michael B. Platt & Carol A. Beane Pattie Por ter Firestone Tom Raneses Red Dir t Studio Ellington Robinson Carolyn Roth Bonner Sale Jean Sausele Knodt Matt Sesow Foon Sham Janathel Shaw Lillian Shaw Bernardo Siles Steve Skowron Jeffrey Smith Langley Spurlock & John Mar tin Tarrat Stan Squirewell Rebecca Stone Gordon Njena Surae Jarvis Lynn Sures Tang Lisa Marie Thalhammer Valerie Theberge Michael Torra Kelly Towles Dan Treado Ruth Trevarrow Tariq Tucker Pamela H. Viola Handirubvi Indigo Wakatama Ellyn Weiss Lee T. Wheeler Catherine White Sharon Wolpoff Sue Wrbican Jenny Wu
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David J Alfuth Vessel No.1 Collage The American College Dictionary defines a collage as a French word that means is a composition employing various materials, such as newspaper clippings, or fragments of adver tisements, with lines and color supplied by the ar tist. Many ar tists from Picasso, Matisse, and Arp have used collage as a method of creating their fantastic ar t. My work as a collage ar tist employs all the principals and element of ar t used to create collage. I however add one more element. My collage works all employ the element of depth. I create relief or sculpture in the round, all of which pieces have that on extra element. I have created several series of ar t each employing various methods to give the pieces some form of 3 dimensionality. I have created a story telling series, a cubist series and finally a large body of Architectural works. I wanted my vessel to maintain the quality of a real vessel. I also wanted to incorporate architectural elements to give it strength and a sense of great stability. I did not use color, as with all my pieces, because the lack of color gives the vessel a special quality all of its own. I also have incorporated that 3 dimensional quality to add that final touch of surprise. I wanted the viewer to look down inside the vessel yet feel like they were looking up at an ornate ceiling.
Rhoda Baer The Journey Kiln formed glass Type the word alchemy into Google search and up pops the ar t of perfection â€“ the search for an elixir of life â€“ immor tality. When I was a kid I thought life was endless and free from imperfection. I now know that there are no absolutes. So for me, the ar t of perfection is the journey of life and the journey well traveled is reward enough. That is my elixir.
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Beth Baldwin It’s Had 4 Chambers from the Start Acrylic paint, apoxie sculpt, beads Listened to a record I almost wore through 20 years ago and it struck me how much my perception of the song changed. This time the blame was on me.
Emily Biondo CO2 reindeer moss, speaker, audio By breathing on a garden, you are imbuing it with carbon dioxide while it imbues you with oxygen. Research has also suggested that plants flourish in an environment of human-made sound, be it voices or music. My bowl focuses on this symbiotic relationship. I’ve placed a speaker at the center of a field of green with the constant reminder of breath in a relaxed audio file. To me, this is healing. Botanist Fernand Lequenne poignantly said, “If you really want to draw close to your garden, you must remember first of all that you are dealing with a being that lives and dies; like the human body, with its poor flesh, its illnesses at times repugnant. One must not always see it dressed up for a ball, manicured and immaculate.” I understand healing as something that is given and returned--plants have always held this meaning for me.
Ed Bisese Cogniventus glazed ceramic I was invited by the Smith Center for Healing and the Ar ts to transform an unglazed bowl into my vision of an alchemical vessel. The central figure is an oroboros in a bottle. This serpent was used as a symbol of cyclicality, rebir th and for the alchemists, a symbol of the nature of the opus magnus. Around the vessel holding the serpent are the names and associated birds for each of the four steps bird by which these scientists hoped to transform base metals into gold. The outside of the bowl is ringed with studies of the vessels used by alchemists. It was a pleasure to be asked to par ticipate and to decorate my vessel. As my statement, I quote Robin Moore Lasky, “I love ar t, I hate cancer, and mostly, I think humans are pretty awesome.”
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Julia Bloom Nest Ceramic bowl, spray paint, birch sticks, wire, embroidery thread My piece, Nest, is inspired by birds’ nests and the growth, the nur turing and the sanctuary that birds’ nests represent, both literally and metaphorically. Sticks and twigs and detritus are gathered and woven into a temporary home, a transformational space hidden among tree limbs, protected from the weather and predators. In time, an egg becomes a hatchling. The hatchling becomes a nestling. And the nestling becomes a fledgling. The soft down of the nestling transforms into feathers. Within the discarded sticks that comprised the nest, the alchemy of time transforms an egg into a thing of flight and song. In the same way, the alchemy of time allows for recovery and the resumption of the arc of our lives.
Raya Bodnarchuk The Moon 2015 Ceramic Ear then material transformed by fire to vitreous permanence. Incredibly useful and long lasting. The image is the moon, which is constantly going through a recurring transformative process. Always on the path to brighter and bolder and always becoming more delicate and gentle.
Courtney S. Hengerer Picking Up the Pieces acrylic paint, eggshells and diluted glue Life is fragile but people are very resilient. We find the strength to pick up the pieces and move forward. I painted the bowl ombré and picked up each piece of eggshell with a tiny brush dipped in diluted glue. The pieces were positioned in a deliberate manner. It was a very meditative process for me.
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Stephanie Booth Circular Tense mixed media Genealogy is a puzzle that leaves many questions unanswered and many mysteries unsolved. Visits to doctors commence with extensive family histories as a way to uncover potential landmines in our own medical future predetermined in our genetic code. However, the past should not serve not just as a warning, but instead provide suppor t and comfor t. My vessel explores the past and its interactions with the present. Modified profiles of my grandmother’s por trait hang and glow against the background. A circular genealogical char t transferred in the center of the vessel is a symbol that our history is not linear. We can gather strength from the experiences of people who preceded us. Understanding the past can both enlighten and heal in the present.
Joe Bradley Animal Electricity Maiolica Glaze and Oxides For me, the frog seemed to be an appropriate symbol for this project. The Frog has long been a symbol for life and healing. The frog was believed to bring the rain, to cleanse and renew the ear th. In winter some species of frogs go dormant, freezing in their watery habitats only to be reborn with the thaw. They are a symbol of resurrection and hope. Towards the end of the 18th century Luigi Galvani famously used frog legs in his experiments with animal electricity. Galvani had his roots in Science and Alchemy. During his experiments with electricity he would contact the sciatic nerve with an electrified probe, causing the frog leg to kick back to life. This was a shocking revelation at the time. His work set the groundwork for many current therapies and helped to progress our modern alchemy of medicine.
Dana Ellyn Peace Acrylic on bowl Dana Ellyn is a vegan ar tist who often uses animals in her work with the hope of making people think about where their food comes from. Her bowl, “Peace,” features a portrait of and quote by author Franz Kafka; “Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you anymore.” Kafka uttered these words while looking at fish swimming in an aquarium at the Berlin zoo. It is said that this is the moment he became a vegetarian. Ellyn is vegan for her health, the well being of animals and the planet. Her bowl has been transformed into an alchemic vessel that reminds us to do no harm. Our society is so removed from the sources of our food … grocery stores are filled with shrink-wrapped neatly trimmed meat. We use words like “bacon” and “steak” but don’t think about the pigs and cows those products came from. Paul McCartney said it perfectly: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” Alchemical Vessels 17
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Mei Mei Chang “Mountains & Rivers” Mixed Media “At first, I saw mountains as mountains and rivers as rivers. Then, I saw mountains were not mountains and rivers were not rivers. Finally, I see mountains again as mountains, and rivers again as rivers.” Zen proverbs “起初，我看到山山脈和河流的河流。然後，我看到山不是 山，河流沒有河流。最後，我再次看到山山脈，河流再次河 流。” 禪諺語
JD Deardourff fade into Bolivian oil and acrylic For this project I was inspired by the shape of the bowl and by they hidden energies that surround and envelop us but lurk just beyond our ability to perceive them.
Patterson Clark Black Hole Soot from D.C.’s exotic invasive plants Local invasive plants were harvested, dried and torched to produce the powdery, absorbent carbon lining this vessel. Weed removal creates space for the return of native plant and animal communities, a restoration similar to that of the spirit as it sheds disadvantageous heavy energies into the cleansing grip of this black hole.
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Billy Colbert Looped permanent felt marker, spray acrylic I am on a merry-go-round that is spinning in and out of control. I am overwhelmed by a myriad of imagery that serves as the backdrop for popular culture’s infomercial. As I spin, I hear sales pitches and slogans being spoken with the cadence of an auctioneer. I see things I am not supposed to see entangled with things I want to see again. When I am off the merry-go-round, I am a composer, using my episodic memory to piece together the fragments from my journey. These fragments are the source for my creations. My creations are an isolation of popular culture’s blur.
Susan Cole Lifedancing Acrylic paint Lifedancing. That is what we do. We are destined to be transformed by all that is within us and by all that is without us. We do not live in a vacuum and we never stop moving.
Paula Crawford Untitled low–fire clay, paint This is a small sculptural variation on a painting series I did in the past that had to do with cells and the body. When I first saw the bowl, it appeared to be perfect and I actually didn’t want to alter it. I settled on making a group of spheres to be in it and of it, if you will. Perhaps, the unspoken theme of the alchemical project is mor tality, which brings up the question of self both as immaterial and as matter -- how the two seem to us as one in life, and then ultimately par t ways.
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Michael Crossett Release Spray paint, acrylic paint, wood, vaseline and resin. This project was very rewarding to me. It pushed me outside of my comfor t zone in medium and technique - forcing me to focus on detail and experiment with materials. The thought of an Alchemy and a transmutation is an exciting idea to me. I envisioned the act itself to quite like an explosion. When I thought of it in context of the Smith Center, I immediately thought of a closed box that symbolized the fear and pain that individuals can keep within and the heavy weight they bear. An individual works with Smith Center to release those burdens and to find new hope, light, wisdom and strength - a release or explosion in itself.
Sarah Dale still remains acrylic, oil and latex paint In ar t, as in life, all things can be made new. What some may discard or count as a loss, others use to uncover the beauty that still remains. This alchemical work uses the refuse of ar t to find a new work hidden within and made new.
Emily Fussner In Light of Our Shadow Cast paper, acrylic It is said that the Apostle Peter’s shadow healed people when it was cast upon them as he walked by. This pattern of hexagons is recycled paper that was cast from the design in a manhole cover on Princess Street in Oldtown, Alexandria. There are spaces in our lives that we often overlook–areas that may be empty, or that we perceive as negative, that we allow to remain dormant under our feet. And yet, when crisis calls these areas to attention, we have the oppor tunity to look deep and rest in the gap. Our hands may get a little dir ty in the process, but if we dare, we may fill and transform the negative space into positive presence that can cast its own healing shadow on those around us.
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Catherine Day Nest Digital Pigment Print decal, silk leaves, acrylic medium & paint A nest is created to provide shelter, an enclosed world of safety and nourishment for a new life. The nest, once it has fulfilled its crafted-for purpose, remains as a reminder that a journey has been made and a new life has star ted. The bowl shape of the nest has evolved over eons, used by creatures of all sizes and forms. Every one of those myriad bowl shaped nests fulfilled its primary purpose, becoming a symbol of the new life that began within it. It’s that symbol of new life provided in each of those bowl shaped nests that I honor here in this Alchemical Vessel.
Hsin-Hsi Chen Resilience pencil, paper, gesso, ceramic We all face countless challenges, difficult conditions, changes or sometimes misfor tunes in our lives, but I’ve always believed that we have the ability to adjust and recover these over time, and become stronger and healthier. Time can heal our wounds. We can always reshape and return to our innocent selves after being pulled. We definitely are able to stretch our inner potentials to the unlimited possibilities.
Jenn DePalma Seeds and Necker Cubes Graphite, Gesso, on bowl. I used to walk where I would pass a solitary tree in the middle of a field. This big tall coniferous tree had branches that looked nice to climb. And when I got close I found there was a soft cushion surrounding the base of the tree. The cushion was made from the discarded male pine cones decaying beneath my feet. These tiny fragile, and soft reproductive organs crumbled with the slightest touch. The smell was pleasant there, pine and decay, and the occasional autumn wind. It felt extremely private within that tree’s drip line. But the privacy was between the tree, the ear th, and it’s transforming organs. I was an interluder. A flash in that tree’s lifetime. A fleeting sense. Sometimes that tree was more real to me than anything has ever been. But the tree’s permanence and my own restless body, means it’s just a memory to me now. And I ask myself, what am I to it?
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Pattie Porter Firestone CUP OF CHI Painted aluminum and ceramic CUP OF CHI represents the human body as a force field barely contained within its vessel, connecting the ear th and sky with varying levels of energy in the colors of the seven chakras.
Robert Devers Alchemical Vessel maiolica glaze painting with shards, beach glass, and glass marbles, on fired ceramic I chose the subject and process of ceramics as the theme for my alchemical vessel, creating a conglomeration of ceramic and glass elements, fired together to create an image of flux and fusion within the bowl, in a new hybrid form of maiolica glaze painting. Within the bowl you will find ceramic shards and beach glass gathered from the beach in Vietri sul Mare, Italy, where I have taught maiolica glaze painting during the month of July for over a decade. Vietri has a long ceramics tradition that can be traced back over 1,000 years, and the shards I collected have been polished by the sea. In firing them anew, I have fast-forwarded them back to the present moment, bringing back their original glaze surfaces. I feel that through working with the elements of ceramics is in essence an alchemical transformation of matter and spirit, embodied in a melting pot of ceramic traditions made new.
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Yaroslav Koporulin Silence Ahead Charcoal, Acrylic coating, Black Velvet, Swarovski Beads We are temporal beings and realize an inevitability of our mor tality. In our running away from this thought we fill our lives with ar tificial tasks that create the illusion of purpose. But our stormy planet of existence is gradually descending behind the horizon into the darkness of not being. The only comfor t we can find is to stay open in this knowledge and care for one another as we witness our lives slipping down the velvety folds of silence.
Patricia Dubroof Honoring the Human Vessel ceramic bowl, acrylic paint, mixed media I am very honored to be nominated by fellow ar tist, Chuck Baxter, to par ticipate in the Smith Center for Healing and the Ar ts Alchemical Vessels Exhibition 2015. At the ar tists’ orientation meeting, I was inspired by Shanti’s inclusion of ancient images. I knew immediately that I wanted to use a metallic palette and include an Egyptian style and sacred found elements. As a painter using acrylics and oil pastel on paper or canvas I was initially challenged by the use of a ceramic bowl. As a performance ar tist, I was drawn to the bowl as a physical element to move around. And as a creative aging specialist the concept of using the scientific alchemical process to underscore the impor tance of natural elements in healing echoes my belief in the duality of science based methods of healing and person centered healing. In a 1990 painting entitled “Container’s of Future Lives”, I embraced the idea of vessel as body. The women are pregnant - on the left is a self-por trait, the nude is a dear friend. Reduced and printed on fine rice paper the image is repeated and adhered to the indigo painted bowl. The bowl shape evokes a nest harboring life. Alchemical Vessels 28
Pam Eichner The Mysteries of Filaments Mixed Media – Unryu Paper, Abaca Fiber, Aryclic Medium and Broken Light Bulb My bowl, “The Mysteries of Filaments,” tells a story of the healing process of both body and soul. In biology and botany, filaments in a fluid are key physical ingredients for healing and growth. In the natural world these mutate into flower stalks, silk, or algae. In the human body these connective tissues are present in every ligament, tendon, muscle, and organ. The filaments settle into rich fibrous pathways providing structure and nourishment. Likewise, an emotional soup of confusion and despair can morph into sturdy strands that strengthen and feed the soul. Twenty years ago I lived in Japan and wandered into a paper shop. I fell in love with the filaments of the handmade papers there. That discovery has led to a metamorphosis in my ar twork, which integrates fiber, mesh, and paint to illuminate the textures of our lives. My bowl for Alchemical Vessels 2015 is a tribute to the beauty of filaments and their role in the mysterious and magical process of healing.
Akemi Maegawa Ying and Yang Daruma Bowl Low fired underglaze and glaze When I had received a blank bowl as a material to work for the Alchemical Vessels Exhibition, my first thought was “How impor tant it was to keep a good balance in life to stay healthy and happy.” Day and night, hot and cold, Ying and Yang. There are always good and bad in life. However, even when I have a bad day, which makes me feel like I am entering the darkest and endless night, I always see the sun rising up next morning. This reminds me that there is a fresh new beginning every day. I believe any negative events are followed by positive outcomes if we keep our eyes and mind open. Darkness is not a bad thing. It gives us a possibility to rest, think, and meditate. Closing eyes does not mean closing mind. Meditation is as impor tant as exercising. Opening eyes does not mean we see things properly, either. We have to open our hear ts first before opening our eyes to see things in different perspectives. My Ying and Yang Daruma bowl is not only a functional bowl to serve a balanced meal but also it serves thoughts for better humanity.
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Margo Elsayd Maybeâ€Śit is a nest! House acrylic paint, thread, glue, found wood, roses, cement and plaster This piece is symbolic of life and the idea that we all have a history. Maybe it is about trying to hide scars or something in our past that at some point is revealed. Or maybe it is about feeling broken and putting ourselves back together and reinventing ourselves. Maybe it is about the process that gets us to where we are at that given moment. Maybe it is about letting go and trusting yourself.
Susan Finsen & Michael Holt Embrace Clay, Paint, Paper, Wire, Glue Over the past few years, emails and phone calls have been punctuated with bad news. E has a brain tumor. J is rejecting his lung transplant. S has uterine cancer. And liver disease. P needs a hip replacement. R and H have Parkinsons. S has Alzheimers. Râ€™s incurable blood disease is progressing. C had a stroke. G has MS. M had a minor hear t attack. Etc. These messages intrude on oneâ€™s ability to pretend, and maintain the illusion, that everything is and will be fine. But out of this landscape of sadness, fear, hope, and loss emerges an amazing community. It is filled with helpers, communicators, organizers, caregivers, and hand-holders. They are family members, close friends, neighbors, medical professionals, slight acquaintances, and strangers. They listen, manage logistics, provide food, take notes, inform friends, and organize, organize, organize. They provide a safe place to express anger, fear, helplessness, sadness, grief, and hope. Our vessel celebrates that community.
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Sharon Fishel “Linga” Acrylic Paint “Linga” is the title of my alchemical vessel. “Linga” means the word “symbol” in Sanskrit. I often star t my creative process by selecting a common plant I find in my garden or just walking around in my daily life. Plants need the four basic alchemical elements to survive: ear th, water, air and fire. Plant forms become a catalysts for me to begin my painting process. I find the beauty of their shapes transformative as they both connect me to natural growth cycles and provide a source for meditation. “Plants symbolize solar energy concentrated and made manifest. Plants, the first stage in life, above all symbolize perpetual bir th, the ceaseless flow of life-giving energy.” “It is easy to understand why the two symbols, plants and water, should be linked as manifestations of life: they are inseparable from water as they are from the sun.” Excerpt from The Penguin Dictionary of SYMBOLS by Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant Copyright Penguin books 1996
Kathryn Freeman “The Moon like a Silver Bow” Oil and gold leaf over gesso “the moon, like to a silver bow/New bent in heaven.” William Shakespeare- A Midsummer’s Night Dream From the time I was a small child I have been fascinated with the moon. My bedroom had a big window with a large oak tree outside it and I could lie in bed and look through the branches at the moon, watching it wax and wane, observing the shadows the moonlight cast upon the floor. It was, and still is, a source of inspiration and creativity for me, and the man in the moon has always been a close friend. The moon itself is a reminder of the passage of time and that all things must change. Its cycles are associated with nur turing, healing and regeneration so I felt that the moon is a meaningful allegory in both its form and symbolism for the Alchemical Vessel.
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Marcia Leigh Fry NULLUM TRAGUM Cat whiskers, Victorian mourning beads, vintage tacks, and string …the unfinished bowl had a pleasing, unfettered look to it. The unglazed, indistinct surface was nicely unfocused and suggestive of a hazy, infinite distance. But what should it contain? Some bananas? Perhaps a dollop of porridge, with milk and honey? No, in this case, what the bowl contains is a mutable point of view. So the challenge was to provide focus, without completely losing the fuzzy, faraway appearance of the bowl itself. The elements needed to have some sharpness to them, but with an organic touch to compliment the unfinished bisque. Dipping into my collection of odd bits – I opted for some of my treasured cat whiskers… …along with some black Victorian mourning beads and vintage cobbler tacks, to provide the perfect color and texture needed to establish a focal point for the piece. Lastly, since the work was to be wall mounted, breaking the plane of the bowl’s edge by draping additional drops of blackness seemed best to fur ther draw the eye outward from the center.
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Michael Gessner “Cracking The Lunar Shell” Papier Mache, Paper and Paint If one could float inside the full moon, bathing in its inner glow until the energy of its light breaks it wide open, giving bir th to a new self, the sick self having fallen away.
Carol Brown Goldberg Landscape of Clarity Acrylic and polymer par ticles Simplicity of primary colors. Simplicity of shapes, forms. Simplicity of a bowl with Clarity of intention, perhaps, A process of healing.
Adrienne Gaither Inside/Out Acrylic on Ceramic Bowl Inside/Out is a colorful reflection of my soul. I was interested in exposing the humility and constructive labor that goes into aligning the spiritual and physical self. My work explores alternative ways to interpret information using color and shape. Focusing on the alphabet, I’ve dissected the common structures of letters A through Z to develop my personal style and visual language. Freeing myself from the confines of legibility, has enabled me to find my own meaning while entering new realms of discovery that leave room for true expressions while reflecting on personal experiences and the world around me.
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Pat Goslee The Fabric of Life elastic bands, ceramic bowl The Fabric of Life By KAY RYAN It is very stretchy. We know that, even if many details remain sketchy. It is complexly woven. That much too has pretty well been proven. We are loath to continue our lessons which consist of slaps as sharp and dispersed as bee stings from a smashed nest when any strand snaps— hur ts working far past the locus of rupture, attacking threads far beyond anything we would have said connects.
Matthew Grimes Into the Ether Mixed media: found objects, billboard paper, spray paint, carpenter’s glue Perhaps an additional alchemical vessel given to humankind is that of Shakespeare’s writings. His works, while diverse in content and symbolically insightful, were supercharged with stories significant to self actualization and have been strongly influential to present. Even in a literal sense, engaging his readings for the first time can be a struggle, much akin of the tedious and laborious process taken towards one’s own healing. This vessel acts as a cairn, helping to mark the path directed toward tapping one’s inner resources. Shakespeare’s work acts much the same way, creatively proving to help find meaning within our own human experiences. While the general intention of a cairn is to point at something directly, Shakespeare managed a similar action while serving to force us to acknowledge the many things we don’t wish to see, or observe directly. Vessel as catalyst.
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Andrea Haffner Pearl of Great Price natural materials, photograph, resin, pigment Carl Jung recognized that the writings of the ancient alchemists provided a rich metaphor for the healing process. This process could involve multiple cycles of washing, separating, burning, and vaporizing matter, among other operations, toward the aim of greater purification. Seen metaphorically, each alchemical operation offers both oppor tunity and risk, such as immersion versus drowning (solutio), or insight versus inflation (sublimatio). Of great impor tance is the container, that which can safely hold the process while it unfolds. I have found the alchemical metaphor to be invaluable, both personally and professionally. The often-difficult process of healing (physical, emotional, or both) can be the very thing that brings for th a sense of calling, of meaning, and of self. James Hillman wrote that the goal of the alchemical process could be seen as the â€œpearl of great price,â€? beginning as a bothersome irritant and gradually over time transforming into something precious and beautiful. The bowl I have created represents my deep faith in process.
Leslie M. Nolan Tottering acrylic, graphite and UV-resistant acrylic sealer My idea for transforming the raw bowl into an alchemical vessel had its roots in the loss of my lovely mother several months ago. That event sparked a new series of figurative paintings featuring strong, confident women with ever bigger and more extravagant hair, wig or headgear. Each painting pushed limits. The extravagant hairpieces symbolize fearlessness, freedom to be outrageous, and exceptionalness. In this ceramic I take the idea even fur ther, with the headpiece so large it circles the vessel, enfolding the figure in a protective embrace. Often a mythological symbol of wisdom, status, beauty, and strength to combat enemies, hair can convey a visual power. Striking images of Angela Davis, Samson, Lady Godiva, and Basquiat come to mind. The same can be said of wigs and hats, which dramatically alter the silhouette, like those of Queen Elizabeth I and Lady Gaga. The figure of my vessel derives strength from unrestrained hair. It stands as a symbol of both resilience and regeneration. Coupled with bold red, white and black colors, the mysterious design and absence of facial detail forge an elemental por trait. This image of calm self-assurance inspires through empowerment.
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Jeff Herrity Reflection bowl, porcelain, nylon fiber flocking To me, healing begins from within and often only after looking deeply at yourself and your willingness to heal. As I have been processing the many challenges in my life as a result of growing up in a house of abuse, my mother has been losing the battle against Alzheimer’s; I find refuge that in her last days she will not have any of the memories that I have been trying to forget. I long to find a vessel, like this bowl, that will contain her memories that are rapidly fading to nothing. I would protect them and remember for her. I am confident that out of all the pain and sadness my family has faced, and continues to face today, that there can be beauty in the healing process. This bowl begun a healing process for me and the result is that I’ve realized that I am a vessel my mother created to carry her forever. My mother is my porcelain, and I’m with her every day as I create.
Maurice “Mo” Higgs That Thing Watercolor, ar t sticks, paint markers I’m not gonna tell you.
Joe Hoffman Simple Harmonic Oscillator Charcoal, Graphite, Acrylic, Black Kyanite I chose a box like shape to adorn the outside of the bowl as a reference to cellular structures and stratum. On the inside of the bowl, I drew graphite and charcoal around the circumference of the various surfaces of the bowl in the same manner one would use a padded mallet on a singing bowl. In the middle I have placed a stone called black kyanite. To some, this stone is known for its healing, restorative, and protective proper ties. It is also believed that black kyanite transmutes negative energy by pushing it into the ear th and replacing it with positive energy.
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Jeff Huntington Agony and Ecstasy Live Together in Perfect Harmony acrylic While considering what it means to transform poison into medicine, or pain into wisdom, I chose to paint two images representing apparently opposing forces: one of anguish, and one of bliss. I have long been intrigued by the iconic film still of the screaming nurse from Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 classic, Battleship Potemkin; Francis Bacon’s adaptations of this image, especially in his painting Study after Velazquez’s Por trait of Pope Innocent X, have, for me, reinforced its haunting nature. Rendered in black and white, the likeness of the injured nurse takes on a leaden appearance. Through the use of repeated geometric shapes – 108 squares in all– I merged the nurse with a golden Buddha, an image I associate with peace, meditation, and bliss. Drawing on Joseph Campbell’s idea of the archetypal “hero’s journey,” I see the vessel as the abyss within which the transformative process of death and rebir th occurs.
David Ibata The danger is real but fear is a choice Color Pencil, Sharpie, Spray Paint
Martha Jackson Jarvis Ashe Carnelian Stones, Rose Quar tz, Mica, Aged Sea Shells, Root, Pigment “Ashe” is a living force in all things, an inexhaustible and infinite power that unites us with the ear th, the stones, the sea, plants, and animals. My Alchemical Vessel draws energy from collected objects of power, placed in an unbroken rainbow circle for healing and thankfulness. The shell spatializes time. Shells become visual synonyms for persistence and the immor tal spiral symbolizing growth and change
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Rose Jaffe Wading Women Inks, acrylic paint, resin
Mariah Anne Johnson Bulb Shredded duvet cover with ceramic bowl I make site-specific installations from second-hand bed sheets and pillowcases. I am informed by: my mother’s meticulously organized linen closet; the tenants of color, line, shape, and mark native to painting; and the facts of a site as I find it. I work intuitively, folding and piling my sheets on and around the significant architectural features of an exhibition space, poking them into cracks as far as a fold will allow, and wrapping them around columns or beams until they sag and collapse under their own weight. I pay rigorous attention to gradual color shifts and color relationships that develop within my works, and to the forms that grow from the repetition of folds and knots. The result of my stacking, draping, and layering is a painting made in space. For my Alchemical Vessel, I wanted to distill my installation process into a small, tangible object, to observe and react to my bowl the same way I do a site.
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Wayson Jones Process Scrapings powdered graphite, acrylic, and metal leaf Related to the leavings of the process of transformation. Including the sought-after substance, the healing, and the damage caused by transmutation.
Maria Karametou “Hygeia” Mixed media This vessel is an offering to the ancient Greek goddess of health Hygeia, one of the daughters of Asclepius, the god of medicine. She is invoked widely even today in Greece, when one raises their glass to a toast, when someone sneezes, or even when we greet each other with both a hello and goodbye (“geia”). The work’s aged patina signifies resilience, endurance, and the hope that helps us through each time health obstacles knock on our door, uninvited guests we have to let in. We look them in the eye as their frightening presence enters our life, and we learn to cope, persist, and ultimately grow. (For Joe, a cancer survivor, and in honor of Anne who left all too soon.)
Sally Kauffman “Milagros” Clay, metal charms and acrylic paint The soothing, minty green exterior of “Milagros” gently cradles the pink, fleshy clay interior embedded with silvery good luck charms. Cultures use the healing charms, named milagros or miracles in Spanish, to focus attention on specific physical ailments in par ts of the body such as legs, breasts, arms, eyes, heads, hear ts and other internal organs and are often carried for protection.
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Jessica Drenk Petrie Books, glue, wax My vessel contains pieces cut from several different books: each their own story, and now recombined into a new narrative. Though the original books have been cut into and reformed, they have also grown and changed into new forms that have a sense of life.
Elizabeth Kendall Pick Up the Pieces, 2015 multiple firings in electric kiln, glaze and ceramic decals Change is a constant in our life. Some change is intentional; we get to choose. At other times the change is due to an obstacle we unexpectedly encounter along the way; we may not feel that we are in complete control. Whatever the impetus, we always have the oppor tunity to decide how and if change changes us. Do we go with the flow, fight upstream, reroute, resist? We must weight the options exploring and working with sometimes opposite, sometimes interdependent, emotions and consequences. I love this push/pull, the challenge, of responding to what is and what could be. As an ar tist and a human I respond to process, idea and material, mix things up and then follow the changes to where they lead me. For my Alchemical Vessel I chose to use old-fashioned ceramic decals in a new way, deconstructing them into par ts and building new shapes that are familiar and strange at the same time. Some pieces were placed in specific relationships some were randomly set requiring an unplanned response. When the par ts are mixed up and re-formed something new and wonderful emerges. Just like life, we sometimes must make a choice without knowing the result, taking one familiar and new step at a time.
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Hana Kim Rub and Residue Graphite, ink, acrylic, chalk Much of my work is characterized by a process of accumulated mark-making through repetitive actions such as erasure, rubbing, scraping and scribbling. I’m less concerned with geometry or perfection as I try to achieve ambiguity and depth through layers of marks and tones. For Alchemical Vessels, my bowl was transformed through a cyclical process of marking, painting and washing, then marking again. Each of these ‘residues’ record evidence of the passage of time—a multitude of moments creating par t of its larger whole.
Micheline Klagsbrun LIGHT VESSEL mixed media My current studio work has been growing into a new dimension, resulting in ephemerally light bowls and sculptures. These bowls are made of several layers of translucent paper – fragments of sketches, held together by papier-maché (tissue paper, medium and ink). I star ted making these vessels as a way of experimenting with translucency and layering, two elements that I use in my paintings and drawings. In ‘LIGHT VESSEL,’ a seemingly delicate yet sturdy inner growth of light and color is suppor ted and contained by an older denser layer, as the bud is contained by the sepals, and must push through them in order to bloom. The ceramic bowl provides another layer, a stable base for the growth process.
Kitty Klaidman Hidden Depths mixed media Nature has always been the inspiration for my work. Having spent much of my childhood moving from country to country, changing languages and environments, I have found solace in the natural beauty around me. I am moved by form, color, texture and the complexity in which these elements are arranged. This vessel incorporates the spirit of my current work in which I explore beneath the surface of nature.
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P D Klein ‘During’ Mixed media I live in the city. Trees used to line the alley next to my home, and their branches cast moving shadows in my room. I miss them.
George Koch PILLS size, color and shape discarded pills, glue, gesso, medium and fixative The Alchemical Vessels Exhibition has provided me the oppor tunity to express the visual elements of PILLS in their shape, size and color. PILLS come with detailed information on Use, How to Use, Side Effects, Precautions and Drug Interactions. This information accompanies all prescriptions, The Patient Prescription Information states “If you have any question about your medication please contact your pharmacist.” When using prescription medication I sometimes I wish the “designer drug” statement might one day include our ability to design the SHAPE, SIZE and COLOR of our PILLS. My Alchemical Vessel contains old and unused PILLS that reflect the different shapes, sizes and colors of my medications and vitamins. Enjoy the shape, size and color my PILLS which are used to adorn the inside of my vessel. Joanne Kent And More Blood oil paint, rag paper, and wax medium
Blood, and more blood, circulation, oxygen, ejection fraction, all of this is on my mind. Rich red oil paint, like rich red oxygenated blood, suppor ts forging ahead full steam with abundant life force . . . that is wellness and healing!
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Peter Krsko Lattice Resin, Wood, Sand, Aerosol maximize Fourier space in our hear t transform fears into peace
Bridget Sue Lambert Interior Experience Miniature Dollhouse Furniture, Metal, Paint, Fabric Demonstrating the universality of human reactions and emotions, a miniature dollhouse bed is used to por tray the emotional, anxious and sometimes sexually charged moments surrounding romantic relationships as well as a woman’s relationship with herself. Like changing lead to gold the ancient ar t of alchemy was largely concerned with changing something of seemingly little value into something very precious. Interior Experience specifically references this early ancient ar t— opening ourselves up to transformations that can be evolved into love and lasting relationships—all star ting and ending in a bed.
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Toni Lane Circle of Women Acrylic paint We are one with each other We are love and faith taught by our mothers In sadness we sing until gladness we bring In hope we share in the children we bare With love and might we teach what is right We, the circle of women
Khánh H. Lê In Loving Memories Mixed media: acrylic paints, gold and silver paints, acrylic crystals, metallic sequins, laser printed toner paper on an un-fired ceramic bowl My own work is a hybrid influenced by design, Minimalism, photography, and the history of abstract painting. I transform everyday family photo albums into colorful abstractions using gold gelly roll pen, sequins, babbles stickers and acrylic crystals. Because these scrapbooking materials have little perceived value, there is freedom to imbed culturally specific references, such as photography as memory that is celebrated through embellishment. When I was invited to par ticipate in the Alchemical Vessels Exhibition, I thought a lot of my aunt who passed away when I was a young boy because of breast cancer. I never had a chance to process her death as she was abruptly taken from my family. Through this project, it is an oppor tunity for me to process and celebrate as an act of healing through my vessel.
Jun Lee Searching Acrylic The story of a thousand origami cranes is that a thousand cranes will bring you a wish once the folding of the cranes is complete. Each crane carries with it the hope to bring peace. Why are we looking for peace in ourselves? Where do we find it? I have made the thousand cranes three times in my life. In each instance, the process of folding the cranes took a significant amount of time, but that time gives me the peace that I need and was looking for. I hope that my crane will show you the way.
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Kyujin Lee “Life Lines” drawing ink, acrylic, paper, UV resistant sealer In Korea, the country of my bir th, babies at their first bir thday par ties face this monumental task, a ritual meant to be semi-prophetic: several objects are placed in front of them, such as money, a book/brush, and a ball of yarn/thread, and the toddlers would go grab one magical object that would bring them prosperity, scholarly prominence or longevity, in that order, the last of which is an inspiration for the web of lines covering the bowl I am presenting here.
Mimi Logothetis “Gold of Clay” Porcelain I decided to use the base format bowl as a mold to shape my decorated porcelain slabs that I could fire up to the temperature needed for their true transformation into the pristine state that only porcelain holds in the world of clay. Porcelain is the gold of the clay world, totally devoid of all impurities from the ear th, all silica, glass like, vitreous, sterile and perfectly white. My decoration process begins on flat slabs of clay, so I slumped the slabs into the bowl and formed them that way. The images depict those of blacksmithing and transforming raw materials to precious items.
Ziad Nagy “Love; an overflowing cup” Resin, Bowl This bowl, full, empty, allowing oneself to feel to see through, healing.
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Steve Loya “Hope and Strength in Times of Darkness” colored underglazes and clear glaze on ceramic The rhinoceros, as a species is under attack and in threat of vanishing from our planet forever, as a result of human greed and corruption. As these mental diseases place this benevolent beast on the brink of extinction, the rhino stands tall, and it has many allies among the very species that has put it in grave danger, willing to fight for its survival. Like the rhinoceros, we all have, at some point in our lives, found, or will find ourselves in situations that can turn our worlds upside down, and we all need something to remind us of the hope and strength that can be found deep inside, as well as from others. The rhino in this piece, offers the viewer a gladiolus flower - a symbol of the inner-power inherent in every human being, and a reminder that there is still great beauty in the world, even in the darkest of times.
Alex Mayer Untitled (Pulp Fiction), 2015 Porcelain, rice paper, found objects I tried to keep it simple and play off the rigidity of the porcelain with the fragility of the rice paper. The counterpoint of the piece became the transition between the two materials.
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Donna M. McCullough Creating the elixir of life Pebeo paints and carved wood In Chinese folklore the moon rabbit represents a companion of the moon goddess Chang’e and instead of pounding the mor tar and pestle, the rabbit is pounding the elixir of life for the goddess. I envisioned the rabbit pounding with its feet by running round and round the moon. I used to whittle and this rabbit is one of the few pieces I have left from those days. Rabbit images appeared often in my life which caused me to research their symbolism. This tale was one of my favorites and I was happy that the Alchemical Vessels 2015 oppor tunity created the vehicle to bring it to life.
Kathryn McDonnell Water is Life; the Ocean is Our Collective Vessel natural sea sponges, natural salts, sumi ink, acrylic paint and adhesive compounds This vessel represents the ocean, the sea, rivers, lakes, streams, glaciers, harbors, natural springs, waterfalls, cumulus clouds, all the places where water collects, gathers and moves from one place to another. Water is the transformative element that gives life. Without water the ear th would not be fer tile, humans would not be here to live, to splash, to play, to drink from the fountain of the Ear th. The constant motion of water cleanses and purifies the planet and us. However the oceans are polluted with debris and toxic waste. Coral reefs are dying because of ocean acidification. It is my hope that this vessel will remind us how precious this collective vessel, the water of life, is to our present and future selves on planet Ear th. The black and white represented by the ink and the salt is the result of water evaporating from the vessel. This vessel is made from natural sea sponges, natural salts, sumi ink, acrylic paint and adhesive compounds. Maggie Michael Atmospheric Particles ceramic glaze and enamel on ceramic On reflection of time and messages, let’s combine On Kawara’s telegrams and joie de vivre: “We are still alive.”
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Vanessa Monroe The Dancing Dragon Acrylic paint, markers It was fun working with it. The design inspired me. Dragons are full of life- they’re not scary. They can be a dancing thing, they can be a spiritual thing. They can be happy, strong, protective.
Evangeline “E.J.” Montgomery Sunshine Acrylics E.J. Montgomery’s configurations on her bowl are the culmination of a life’s journey. The marks represent the ar ticulation of a soul that has found peace and solace in a world revisited with turmoil. I offer you a glimmer of sunshine, an inner sanctum through poetic interpretation of ear th, air, and land.
Maria Lanas Vessel of Infinite Love mixed media: oil paints, graphite, gold leaf As I began to work on this vessel, I took inspiration from my own personal experience. Nine years ago par t of my personal process of healing was to send love and chemo to my cancerous cells and allow peace, wisdom, love, joy, light, trust and power into my life. With those thoughts in mind, I decided to paint the transformation of my destroyer, abnormal and out of control cells into healthy, cells turning into a big pink flourishing flower.
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Lucinda Friendly Murphy “Repetition with Change” acrylic paint This ar twork is about change, how Evolution happens. To stay fit, Nature’s creations must change as their environment changes. One way this happens is by the repetition of the existing creations, with some modifications. Most of these variations are not viable. They do not enhance fitness and are eliminated. Sometimes, however, a mutation is beneficial. If it appears at the right time and place, it thrives and becomes par t of the next generations. With this bowl, I explored this concept of Evolution by star ting in the center and repeating each circle with some changes. Most of the alterations were gradually smoothed out but a small percentage caused a significant reshaping that persisted into the next generations. There is some thought today that we are the product of this process. Jessica Cebra A Dream of Reconstruction joss paper, glue, acrylic, resin sand Pondering the shape of the vessel coincided with my reading about the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the collapse of its first dome twenty years after its dedication in 537 CE. Hagia Sophia has suffered the effects of time but remains a treasure of ar tistic craftsmanship. There is no evidence of what the original dome looked like. This ‘unknown’ offered an oppor tunity for my imagination, and together with the motif, facilitated a focused exercise of symmetry and the challenge of working with a delicate material on a curved, diminishing surface. The gold and silver refer to the metals of alchemy, or the sun and moon, constantly changing with the movement of the eye and light. The sooty blackness that tarnishes their glow refers to decay, crystallization, and the residue of smoke that collects on sacred objects. I chose a motif that was a popular background pattern in Byzantine mosaics, where the gold in iconography symbolizes otherworldliness. The pattern was adapted in Islamic decoration, carved into stone entranceways, evoking boundlessness. The motif is most recognized in Japanese ar t, known as ‘seigaiha’ or ‘crescent sea waves.’ It became prominent in the 17th century but is still today a symbol of good for tune.
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Frederick Nunley Hope cotton fabrics, rope and thread Challenged to think about alchemy in a vessel for the healing ar ts center, I reflected on the origins of Alchemy when the highest quest by mystics was to create gold from lead. These magical aspirations are the origin of modern science that today we have come to rely on to heal us. Modern medicine is only par t of our alchemy of healing. The ar t of meditating, creating and living a mindful existence are also impor tant par ts of the path to wellness. I chose to slowly sew this bowl row by row; it was a meditation. I used colors and materials from my roots and my present creative life of quilting. Both the colors and fabric speak to me of my early years as a child delighting in the discovery of Pollyanna’s crystals in a sunny window casting dancing spectrums across a sickbed room and the ar t of making patchwork quilts with my grandmother in Appalachian Virginia. Those memories make my hear t feel full and warm, so I endeavor to pass that emotion on with this vessel to inspire hope. Cory Oberndorfer You Can’t Make an Omelet acrylic on ceramic I have chosen the egg as my symbol of transformation and rebir th. Inspired by the brightly colored outer shell and stark white interior of a child’s Easter egg, this fragile form is stronger than it appears.
Anthony Palliparambil, Jr. Loud Noises Graphite In A Poem of Friendship, Nikki Giovanni writes, “…We are not friends because of the laughs we spend but the tears we save...” Layer by layer, the complete text of this work was applied into and subsequently blended out of my vessel. Each layer was preceded by a moment of quiet reflection on significant individual relationships in my life - the friendships, loves, and confidants that have held my hands as I faltered, healed my woes, and helped me to rise from the ashes. Hither by thy help I’ve come, and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. EK/JD/KZ/RV/KU/ED/GT/SG/VP/TF
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John Paradiso I love Pansies, 2015 Acrylic and fabric on ceramic bowl Historically the word “pansy” was used as a disparaging term for a man or boy who was considered either effeminate or homosexual. The irony is that the pansy is a very hardy flower. I continue to use the pansy in my work to reference all the derogatory slurs I have heard throughout my life. The Alchemy of something once meant to be ugly and hur tful remaining resistant and pretty is healing for me.
Elena Patiño Within ceramic bowl, cotton thread and hand-felted balls. The idea of working with a canvas that could physically contain other objects was very appealing to me. For this piece I wanted to combine the idea of containing and protecting. There are 4 pairs of black and white felted balls inside the bowl, contained by the red thread. These pairs represent 4 different tangible dualities such as male/female, light/dark, fire/water, life and death.
Miguel Perez Lem “The Artist’s Vision” Ceramic bowl, recycled paper made after newspapers, black pebble, oil paint and resin My inspiration for this piece comes from the intimate connection that I always have with the natural world. The organic shapes inspire me to transform my own world and, likewise, transform the world into my own shapes. This piece is intended to generate dialogue about issues I feel are integral to the process of creation and living life with open eyes. I always hope that my ar t will serve as a vehicle that invites the viewer to step back, take a deep breath, and reconnect with his/her own being.
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Brian Petro “Gyri and Sulci.2” Denim Fabric, Polyurethane, Enamel Paint, Latex Paint, Glue, and Graphite. Personal transformation derives from choice, and response to random encounters and events, and moments that we create, ...not fate, or destiny. Choose your path, guide your path, make your path. This piece is inspired by the undulating ridges and valleys on the surface of the Human Brain (Gyri and Sulci,) the source of Thoughts, Emotion, Decision Making, and Action.
Jeneen Piccuirro Into the luminous dark Fire, water, salt, ash, smudge, pastel, charcoal, graphite, gold leaf & prayer. Merging into the process of becoming, a single prayer ignited. Glowing embers cradled in the white womb. Planted. A creation begins. An invocation. A sacred fire. A ceremony. The flame whispers “let go” and then, dancing its final release, descends, transmuted into the vessel. Fire consumes paper creating ash. I listen to each final exhale, and with it I surrender too. No mind. No body. No meaning. Just this last breath. Contained, The manifest and the unmanifest merge into the center of the black sun. A new form begins to emerge. Slowly. One distinct moment at a time. I follow its path. “One more” it whispers. “And another” it beckons. More voices call to be heard. Each wanting to be included. Pray, burn...wait. The world slows down to witness the bir th. Beyond words, beyond sound, beyond beyond I hear emptiness, see silence and embrace the infinite. This por tal of eternal healing. A divine matrix. From a trinity revealed. In the present moment it is Potentiated Space. I am merely the vessel. Alchemical Vessels 58
michael b. platt + carol a. beane Time travelling— graphite on ceramic Time travelling— our grief; our joy quietly in shards of reflections in ancient mirrors filled with wind brought spirits; knowing moments; then meeting now, more than memor y… As one grows into the ages of parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends of that other generation, one has an increasing sense of becoming…we feel that older generation— some still here; others gone on—in our becoming: in new found knowledge of a chill day in our bones; in the way we move, walking, stepping, dancing, sitting down, standing up; in the squint of our eyes; the tilt of our head; in how high we raise our arms and how tightly we grip the lid of a can, a bottle top, an arm, a hand… Now conflates with then and then with now—sometimes it is the conditions, the illnesses that manifest later rather than sooner that conjure an early morning routine of injections in the kitchen, sitting on a stool, with breakfast 5 minutes away and 4 oz. of orange juice even closer—remembering the strength implicit in a back as straight as it could be; in the economy of movement when, skin exposed, the needle entered and was withdrawn in one tight swift arc; in the serenity of being as well as well could be…
Bonner Sale Our sentiments for the beyond Acrylic paint No, not gone, maybe physically but lives in experience, history within your soul and throughout the cosmos. Our steps will be shadowed by the spirit; some believe they are guiding lights in our times of needs. Our grief is as much a testimonial measure of the love we share for the lost. This vessel is a reflection of the surrender of attachment, to entrench your bond with the passed.
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Tom Raneses A Journey Taken Together paint, ink, and paper My work recalls journeys to places, times and special moments assembled with paint, ink, and paper. A Journey Taken Together is a recurring theme in my ar twork. The alchemical bowl was a real challenge since I do not usually work on a 3D surface. The transformation of the bowl to represent a journey is expressed in these geometric shapes and illustrated birds. The path from illness to health can be a solitary experience, but in my life true healing is a journey better taken together. This was especially hear tfelt for me since this past year I helped my wife through her battle with cancer. The rhythm of colors and shapes against one another transcends the surface of the bowl. I am grateful to the Smith Center for letting me be par t of an effor t to transform toxic elements into hope, light, wisdom and strength.
Red Dirt Studio unfill video, 9:34 runtime ed. 2/6 excerpted from a letter to a cousin: ...Instead of submitting a work using the provided bowl, we decided to submit a video that has all the labor of the bowl without the bowl. As sculptors, we set out to carve a void that would remain in the landscape for a time, or maybe become par tially refilled as we worked. But, ultimately, these spaces of absence melt as seasons change. And yet they are forever etched here, where, hopefully, they continue to resonate in this work I dedicate to you. Iâ€™m hoping you heal again, from this most recent loss, and Iâ€™m sending All My Love, J.J.
Ellington Robinson Muntu Acrylic, found object and oil paint. My sister Paula Robinson Reese died in 1998, age 36 from a very aggressive rare form of Breast Cancer. The dynamic that I see when thinking about her and the many close friends and relatives that were victims of cancer in making this vessel is the oneness of: ancestors, the cosmos, family, memory, simplicity, and space.
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Carolyn Roth Transformation Acrylic bubbles, sticks, glue, paper, paint Alchemists sought to transmute lesser metals into gold, and find the Elixir of Life. A forerunner of modern day science, alchemy par ts ways with present day science with its belief in myth, magic, and spirituality. The process of personal transformation helps us bring our unconscious from the darkness into the light. The sacred cauldron symbolizes the chalice of this metamorphosis. As heat transforms water to steam and cold solidifies water to ice, so too meditation and inner work propel the seeker toward individuation.
Jean Sausele-Knodt Recent Conversations Ceramic, Wood, Graphite, Oil, Stainless Steel, Wax It was a thrill to receive my beautiful smooth and pristine ceramic bowl. Yet, when I star ted to guide its â€œtransformation,â€? it began to feel like a foreign object; with a sensibility unrelated to my usual studio work. After quite a few hours working at it and in a baffled daze, I picked up a graphite pencil and began whacking lines out onto its surface. The bowl whirled and spun as I dropped the marks down; and at each stroke it rang, quite delightfully, as if a bell. My quest became stronger to seek understanding on a variety of life-interactive levels: to gather-in fragments; find connections; gain a sense of whole; heal; reveal possibilities and new inspiration. Clearly, it was while making those graphite marks that my acceptance of the bowl opened up, and more complex and enlightened conversations began to unfold. Star ting there, at that place of ringing. This Vessel and its Alchemy holds for me newly found and precious understandings and is dedicated to my father, George J. H. Sausele, who loved us as he lived a full and inspiring life with cancer for over twenty years. Alchemical Vessels 61
Matt Sesow “Sesow Bowl, 2015“ acrylic For my bowl, I used a few icons that I’ve incorporated since I star ted painting in 1994. The one-winged bird around the outside is ‘coasting’ which symbolizes ‘things are going well’... the bunny represents innocence, and relates to me being like a bunny when i was struck by the propeller of a landing airplane at age eight. The bunny sits inside my ‘trauma cup’ which represents keeping all the ‘bad things’ contained and not letting them spill out. The stars are a nod to the donation aspect of the show. The red/black/white paint is the color scheme I use for all my sculptures.
Foon Sham “Healing” cedar and pencil on ceramic bowl By extending the growth lines of a piece of fragmented wood housed inside a wooden vessel (our body), it is a metaphor for healing as we encounter cancer, which could be a threat to our life.
Janathel Shaw Dancing in the Light Under glazes and glaze As someone who has a chronic illness I can embrace the idea of transmutation and exploring the divine. In my image I explore ways to show illness changing into striations that provide vivacity.
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Lillian L. Shaw Earth Lair Modeling paste and acrylic My body of work is a non-representational and representational study on how the materials and techniques I use behave with each other. My affinity towards aesthetics created by natural occurrences such as decay, rust, and corrosion largely influences my work. My goal is to have each painting imitate par ticular scenes from nature, which fascinates me for the enigmatic visuals they embody. I appreciate how I can achieve the look of an aging process with simply paint. My series of paintings make me see the beauty of something that would be considered grotesque. Such imagery propels me to fur ther investigate, and I hope my ar t compels the viewer to do the same.
Berndardo Siles Swirl Oil paints, cold wax, varnish Having had a number of friends and family deal with cancer, I envisioned my Alchemical Vessel by projecting the range of emotions that one might go through on their journey with this illness. I represented that range through a variety of hues, tones and patterns as a metaphor for their struggle. The bottom of the bowl reflects the dark, still moments when one finds out he or she has cancer. The dark colors represent intense emotions such as pain, fear, anger, frustration and depression. For the sides of the bowl, I used elements in motion and mid-tone colors that radiate from the center representing changes in feelings, such as acceptance and regaining control through knowledge and understanding of options and treatments available. I represented these ideas in a random pattern echoing the unpredictability of cancer and emotions. Healing is represented by lighter tones at the periphery of the vessel and spilling over onto the sides, representing the ability to come to terms with oneâ€™s condition. I used a palette of greens, blues and yellows - calming and joyful at the same time - evoking hope and the ear thly elements we can all relate to: the land, the sky and the sun.
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Steven Skowron My Promethean Self (Artist-Healer-Alchemist) Ceramic bowl wrapped with an archival inkjet Habotai fabric print, silver gilded underlay, with a copper gilded exterior. The work of Carl Jung has played an impor tant role in my life, by providing a vocabulary and visual narrative to help frame the adversities experienced as well as the many blessing I have received. I have chosen to use an image of myself in the vessel, surrounded by dark matter, representing; isolation, suffering and purification. The silver underlay to the image holds impor tance to me because it represent the feminine energy within me, healing, wisdom, dreams and persistence. The exterior is gilded in copper, symbolizing ar tistic creativity, caring and balance. I brought these three elements together as hope, that in our suffering we are purified, cleansing ourselves of our impurities to begin to see the beauty that lies within ourselves and to see the beauty and fragility of others around us. The bowl and the image remind me of our interdependence on each other and there is sacredness in that. As a past par ticipant of the Smith Centerâ€™s Cancer Retreat and scholarship recipient, I am indebted to the help of this organization. The bowl represents my ongoing journey and transformation to live life as fully as I can.
Jeffrey Smith Lokas and Talas Acrylic paint with interference pigment In Hinduism, the words Lokas and Talas refer to the seven paired worlds which make up the cosmos. Lokas are the spiritual planes of the Universe, and the Talas are their opposite counterpar ts in the physical realms. Each is considered an interpenetrating par t of the other, and the full set of four teen are thought to be embedded within an even larger reality. In much the same way, human beings exist as a balance between matter and spirit, and are par t of a much larger world. We each contain worlds within ourselves, and have opposite tendencies which we must learn to keep in balance. When we become sick and must go through a healing process, we have a chance to encounter this connection between our physical and spiritual selves, and to appreciate how inseparable they are while we are alive.
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Langley Spurlock + John Martin Tarrat Transmutation Acrylic, Gold Ink and Archival Pigment Print with Beeswax Incorruptible flesh of the angels is Gold Ask an alchemist Give someone a clay pot and they might give you back a magical bowl. Perhaps, a rustle of angel wings. With a verse, a very proper little haiku as well. The Egyptians, who had lots of gold and knew a lot about it, believed the yellow metal was the stuff of heaven because it remains the same forever. Untouched. Shiny as the day it was found. Its glitter never dimmed. Alchemists dreamed of using the legendary red Philosopher’s Stone to transmute base material into it. Gold they believed, reveals truth, the greatest of all treasures. And heals ignorance, the worst of all diseases. It lifts the spirit. And prolongs life. So, to this day, couples say “I do” with it. Medalists sweat it. Bankers coin it. Thieves pocket it. Rainbows end with it. And miracles begin with it. The Transmutation vessel is par t of a ten-year collaboration between ar tist Langley Spurlock and poet John Mar tin Tarrat. The bowl, sealed in matte black, triple-coated with gleaming reds and hand lettered in gold, has “wings” that appear to float within, rising from the dark toward the light, from unquiet to quiet.
Lynn Sures Interior Oxide glaze, acrylic paint, colored pencil, encaustic on clay bowl The bowl is altered from the first—I used an oxide and low fire to move it away from its origin. Applications of acrylic and then colored pencil developed an illustrated environment— stalactites along the outside of the bowl. Encaustic was the final step, applied in drips to the inside of the bowl to simulate an elemental process, stalactites growing in drips on the interior of a cave. This referenced alchemy takes place every day within the ear th.
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Rebecca Stone Gordon “a world in a grain of sand” quar tz sand and adhesive I drew inspiration for my alchemical vessel from Siesta Key, a small island on the West Coast of Florida famous for dazzling sugary-soft white quar tz sand. Beaches figure prominently in metaphors of healing as places of tranquility and peace, but I find that the constant change in the environment also speaks to living a life challenged by illness. Sand is an element of both creation and destruction. It grounds us, yet it is constantly shifting and challenging our balance. This powdery sand becomes sharp when affixed to this bowl, but the complexity of our relationship to it can never be frozen.
Njena Surae Jarvis “+” gypsum, pararcord, black sand The best healing happens when we can entice our Brain and Body (Mind and Spirit) to work in tandem for our wellbeing. One must focus the energy through channels that will manifest the desired outcome, and a way to do that is through personal rituals of our own design. No matter how simple or complex, they can be the key to our self-healing. This Vessel is designed to symbolically massage the fear and doubt associated with any ailment of the mind or body. The blank crosses are to protect, absorb and dissolve, as is the pendulum that marks the path to resolve. The sand keeps a momentary record for the Alchemist to (when ready) shake away the pattern into a clean slate. This is one method, but the Alchemist should design their own method to suit their individual needs.
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Tang Untitled (Searching for Happiness) Spray paint on ceramic bowl For the Alchemical Vessels project, I wanted to create something for people to be able to enjoy and also learn from the idea behind the ar twork, from today and hundreds of years from now... Fur thermore, as I had been brought up with Buddhism’s teaching as a child, there is a quote from the Buddha I really like. “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” - The Buddha. I wanted my bowl to reflect on this teaching. I also believe that true happiness can only be achieved from training one’s mind and not from gaining an object, which is a shor t-lasting form of happiness. Therefore, the permanent happiness is always within you and all you need to do is learn how to find it.
Lisa Marie Thalhammer “Eight Limbs” Liquitex gloss medium, metallic powder and collage on ceramic bowl Inspired by the healing and purification practice of yoga, visual ar tist Lisa Marie Thalhammer collages a figure referencing the eight limbs of yoga as outlined by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra: ethics (yama), restraints (niyama), postures (asana), breath regulation (pranayama), detachment (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), liberation (Samadhi).
Valerie Theberge Expecting polystyrene, glass, mor tar I am interested in the space in which dreams and desires reside until they are formulated. This gestation is a period of doubt and promise. This bowl represents a womb, which is the ultimate incubator where a magical process of transmutation occurs.
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Michael Torra Solar Vessel Pencil and acrylic on ceramic This work is my first adaptation of my oil-on-canvas sun series paintings to a new surface and using a new medium. The sun, with its radiant light, is one of the prerequisites for life on our planet, and has long been known to have a healing power both physically and mentally (when embraced in moderation) that kills germs, strengthens our bones, boosts our immune systems, and improves our emotional well-being. Ancient civilizations rightfully deified the power of the sun in such forms as Ra, Surya, and Apollo (not coincidentally also the god of healing), bringing a spiritual force to this mighty celestial body. In its own modest way, this work pays homage to the awesome power of the sun.
Kelly Towles Golden Eyes spray paint and acrylic I deal a lot with people’s inner conflicts and emotions. For the Vessel—I wanted to do a simple masked character, a basic reflection of feelings. It may be shiny, it may be pretty, but she won’t let on to her mood.
Dan Treado “How To Go To Bed” oil This kind of vessel interests me as a unique surface to hang paint on -- I’ve been making round paintings for the last year, and so this form is attractive for that reason. Perhaps the alchemical aspect comes in through the back door – it intrigues me how the roundness, the neither up nor down-ness of a circular object can mesmerize and hypnotize, and so maybe healing can be found in the simple act of looking at ar t like this whose form is simple and known and deeply rooted in fundamental physical truths.
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Ruth Trevarrow Mend broken ceramic bowl, gold, lacquer, copper alloy, Sugru, lacquer As I contemplated the bowl, I wanted to make something perfect, perfectly healed. But in my mind’s eye I kept seeing the “beauty of imperfection.” I like things that are used and need fixing. I like accentuating frailty. So I broke the bowl, and then mended it. The Japanese tradition of ceramic repair, kintsugi, mixes gold powder with lacquer to emphasize the random beauty of repairs. A Chinese method of repair uses hand-crafted metal staples. They may look crude at first, but upon closer examination, great care and ar tistry have made the vessel whole and useful again. In these repairs I see things differently - bare tree branches, blood vessels, hair. I’m different after being mended. So is the bowl.
Tariq Tucker Spring Lumens In Bloom G16 1/2 Light Bulbs, Acrylic paint Spring Lumens explores the Relationship between Materials and Terminology. Bloom infers Spring that star ts from some elements of Bulbs, but not the type that Illuminate. The term Lumens addresses the idea that Illumination is necessary in order for any natural blooming environment.
Pamela H. Viola Zen Wabi Sabi Mixed Media and Found Objects My vessel represents a meditation and personal clarification of my current work as an ar tist. I have never been a “doodler” but heard about the relaxing effects of “zentangle” and decided to try it. Indeed, the creation of simple repetitive patterns had the effect of meditation. All other thoughts fell away during the process. As I decided how to treat the interior of the vessel, my mind wandered to calm, natural, pure, imperfect and impermanent. The way of meditation and wabi sabi!
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Ellyn Weiss “Surface Tension” wax and pigment I am fascinated by the way that images and objects become manifest, are brought into being by the human imagination and hand. This is the essential work of the ar tist, to create something where there was nothing, or to transform one thing into something completely different. The definitions of the word “create” include conceive, design, construct, actualize, implying a process that moves from the moment of inspiration through production. Alchemy is such a process of creation and these vessels represent our many and various effor ts to make our individual conceptions manifest. My piece imagines the moment that living creatures emerge into the visible world, all possibilities ahead and unknown.
Lee T. Wheeler “ Make time “ Mixed media, jute, tin, leather, wood, cotton, and other re-purposed materials Most of the materials used in the making of this vessel are reclaimed or in a sense, transformed materials, items that star ted with one purpose and ended up as something very different. Healing for me is a thing of absolute middle, between where you were and where you will be. A place that is private and shared, isolated and open, dark and light at the same place in time. Vulnerable and risk taking, insecure and self reliant, constant and evolving. A place you have to make time for.
Mike Johnson ut supra sic infra candle soot, bones, twine, feathers, beeswax, coin, blood ut supra sic infra nigredo: flame albedo: smudge by hand citrinitas: beeswax rubedo: blood
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Sharon Wolpoff Excuse Me I Have Work To Do Glass beads, tourmaline beads, garnet beads, mixed media and acrylic paint “Send me out into another life Lord because this one is growing faint I do not think it goes all the way” -W.S. Merwin Words From a Totem Animal In order to be able to express new identities, we must be willing to let go of old ones. My vessel honors the alchemy of rebir th, and in doing so it also honors the process of releasing old beliefs, old attitudes and old structures which no longer serve, much like the way in which a snake sheds its skin. Major transformation requires suppor t, so my vessel is intended to hold sacred space within which the ‘new’ can safely emerge. Metaphorically, it provides a protected place for setting something new into motion at precisely the moment something old has just been let go. This is the first breath taken in the new state of being.
Sue Wrbican “Beam Reach” glaze and decal The image in the bowl is a photograph I’d given my friend Michael who kept it next to his bed in the last care facility he’d lived in. Michael Shamberg was an ar tist and filmmaker who suffered from mitochondrial disease. Though it robbed him of mobility and the ability to speak, he continued his work in film communicating with his editor through the iPad his sister had given him. Throughout the time of his illness his belief in expressing kindness to all and his deep love for ar t healed his soul. After his years-long struggle he depar ted us in November 2014. His family gathered later that evening for a small dinner during which the lights dimmed and brightened several times. Perhaps it was the weather or a power surge, however his caretaker Stephen Ames said he liked to think that it was Michael’s way of letting us know that he’d arrived safely.
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Handirubvi Indigo Wakatama Hokoyo Ndinondzi Venus yarn and acrylic paint “Hokoyo Ndinondzi Venus” is a piece inspired by the Venus of Willendorf and Sarah Baar tmaan; it translates in English as “Beware, my name is Venus”. When I was younger, I told my mother that I didn’t think that I was beautiful, especially in reference to my unapologetic Southern African features, which are not always celebrated or considered to be beautiful or viewed in a positive light. She responded by saying, “When I look at you, I see me, your grandmother, your great-grandmother and my sister. I am, they are, and one of the most intelligent and beautiful people I have ever seen in my life. So, if you think we are all ugly, you must be stupid.” From that point on, the way that I viewed myself was completely the opposite of how I felt prior to my mother’s words. This was the last time I ever viewed myself as just a sole individual but a representation of all of the women who came before me.
Jenny Wu I am not Ai Weiwei and You Are Probably Racist Digital print, three Ikea frames Acknowledging who you are.
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Catherine White Altar Raw clay slips and woodfired, stoneware bowl with natural ash glaze As a potter I love the heat-induced transformation of raw materials into usable and ceremonial vessels. I am drawn to wild sources of clay that have variety and an elemental sense of mud. While one star ts from the childlike play of a mad scientist mixing and matching, one hones ideas to create mystery, using exper tise gained from ongoing experiments in materials. The bowl provided by the Smith Center for Healing & the Ar ts is the frame and substrate for my raw materials used to create a shelf and shelter for one of my woodfired bowls—an altar from which the bowl can be removed for use in a healing ceremony. The pre-made bowl-frame is coated with raw clays, the surface dipped and printed to draw a representation of the land where the materials were found. The woodfired bowl is made from collected clay, mixed, formed and fired in a wood-fueled kiln. Clay is both the substance and symbol of the crude beginning. The juxtaposition of the raw with the fired alludes to beginnings, transitions and the future potential of transformation.
Nate Lewis I found freedom in boundaries. single sheet of sculpted paper Hidden within a single sheet of white paper, lies its dynamics of life. With a blade, I play with its vulnerable construction; and through the surgical process, bring out its fragile, astonishing attributes. Through a myriad of precise cuts, I carve, fold, and sculpt the paper, transforming it into a new form. The blade is multifaceted and able to act on the unseen anatomy within a sheet of paper to create a new anatomy, multidimensional and intricate, best revealed by the use of light. This approach stems from my nursing experience in caring for critically ill patients and their family members. In the Intensive Care Unit setting, I witnessed how tragedy and uncer tainty brings about a sudden transparency and vulnerability between the patient, family members, and caregivers. This experience gave me a vivid awareness of the thin line between living and dying. As a result, transparency and vulnerability became an urgent matter. By removing layers of fear, guilt, and shame that disrupts equilibrium and interferes with growth; and by cultivating meaningful relationships, I hope to encourage others to do the same. Like my interaction with paper, the exchange between vulnerable subjects is fragile, mysterious, and beautiful.
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Index of artists David Alfuth, 14 Beth Baldwin, 15 Rhoda Baer, 14 Emily Biondo, 15 Ed Bisese, 15 Julia Bloom, 16 Raya Bodnarchuk, 16 Stephanie Booth, 17 Joe Bradley, 17 Judy Byron, 20 F. Lennox Campello, 20 Jessica Cebra, 53 Mei Mei Chang, 21 Hsin-Hsi Chen, 26 Patterson Clark, 21 Billy Colber t, 22 Susan Cole, 22 Paula Crawford, 22 Michael Crossett, 23 Sarah Dale, 23 Catherine Day, 26 JD Deardourff, 21 Jenn DePalma, 26 Rober t Devers, 27 Jessica Drenk, 42 Patricia Dubroof, 28 Pam Eichner, 29 Dana Ellyn, 17 Margo Elsayd, 32 Susan Finsen & Michael Holt, 32 Sharon Fishel, 33 Kathryn Freeman, 33
Marcia Leigh Fry, 34 Emily Fussner, 23 Adrienne Gaither, 35 Michael Gessner, 35 Carol Brown Goldberg, 35 Pat Goslee, 36 Matthew Grimes, 36 Andrea Haffner, 37 Cour tney S. Hengerer, 16 Jeff Herrity, 38 Maurice “Mo” Higgs, 38 Joe Hoffman, 38 Jeff Huntington, 39 David Ibata, 39 Mar tha Jackson Jarvis, 39 Rose Jaffe, 40 Mariah Anne Johnson, 40 Mike Johnson, 74 Wayson Jones, 41 Maria Karametou, 41 Sally Kauffman, 41 Elizabeth Kendall, 42 Joanne Kent, 44 Hana Kim, 43 Micheline Klagsbrun, 43 Kitty Klaidman, 43 PD Klein, 44 George Koch, 44 Yaroslav Koporulin, 28 Peter Krsko, 45 Bridget Sue Lamber t, 45 Maria Lanas, 52
Toni Lane, 48 Khánh H. Lê, 48 Jun Lee, 48 Kyujin Lee, 49 Nate Lewis, 77 Mimi Logothetis, 49 Steve Loya, 50 Akemi Maegawa, 29 Alex Mayer, 50 Donna M. McCullough, 51 Kathryn McDonnell, 51 Maggie Michael, 51 Vanessa Monroe, 52 E.J. Montgomery, 52 Lucinda Friendly Murphy, 53 Ziad Nagy, 49 Leslie M. Nolan, 37 Frederick Nunley, 56 Cory Oberndorfer, 56 Anthony Palliparambil, Jr., 56 John Paradiso, 57 Elena Patiño, 57 Miguel Perez Lem, 57 Brian Petro, 58 Jeneen Piccuirro, 58 Michael B. Platt & Carol A. Beane, 59 Pattie Por ter Firestone, 27 Tom Raneses, 60 Red Dir t Studio , 60 Ellington Robinson, 60 Carolyn Roth, 61
Bonner Sale, 59 Jean Sausele Knodt, 61 Matt Sesow, 62 Foon Sham, 62 Janathel Shaw, 62 Lillian Shaw, 63 Bernardo Siles, 63 Steve Skowron, 66 Jeffrey Smith, 66 Langley Spurlock & John Mar tin Tarrat, 67 Stan Squirewell, 20 Rebecca Stone Gordon, 68 Njena Surae Jarvis, 68 Lynn Sures, 67 Tang, 69 Lisa Marie Thalhammer, 69 Valerie Theberge, 69 Michael Torra, 70 Kelly Towles, 70 Dan Treado, 70 Ruth Trevarrow, 71 Tariq Tucker, 71 Pamela H. Viola, 71 Handirubvi Indigo Wakatama, 76 Ellyn Weiss, 74 Lee T. Wheeler, 74 Catherine White, 77 Sharon Wolpoff, 75 Sue Wrbican, 75 Jenny Wu, 76
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Acknowledgements Smith Center staff: Anthony Palliparambil, Jr., Interim Gallery Director Emily Fussner, Ar tist Coordinator Handirubvi Indigo Wakatama, Gallery Assistant Zenia Simpson, Gallery Assistant Erin Price-Schaber t, Development Manager Casey Bauer, Development and Communications Intern Shefa Benoit, Operations Manager
Designer: Grace Toulotte unitedbylovedesign.com Photographer: Tom Wolff Printer: KCP Communications Art Installation: Ray Fitzgerald
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Alchemical Vessels planning committee: Helen Frederick Janice Marks Timothy Schelling Kim Schelling Ellyn Weiss