Thank you to all who attended the opening yesterday of An Alchemic View at the Mattatuck Museum including my gallery talk. The exhibition runs through November 29. This video is playing in the exhibition space.
Another highlight of the exhibition (of course in addition to the artwork) is a display case featuring some of my materials. I asked my dental hygienist in Savannah (2010) what the gritty stuff was that she was using to polish my teeth and her answer was "Mt St Helen's lava". That was music to my ears and that's why it is featured here in a little blue dental bag. I received two and the first worked so well as a gritty chalk ground that I am now using a larger supply purchased from a dental supply website. This then sparked a chain reaction of researching even more pumice sources and I am now ordering different grits from jewelry fabrication suppliers. It acts similar (with varying results) to the quartz and calcite I import from Japan.
The little pink bag is Minnesota pipeline powder given to me by one of my workshop students. It is used in the test panel on the bottom left, along with South American cochineal.
Display case currently at Mattatuck Museum
Display case information label
I am continuously asked whether the origin of my materials informs the meaning and message of my work. Most of the time, the answer is no-I choose my raw matter for its inherent properties: particle size, hue, ability to saturate, absorbency, viscosity, refractive index, etc... I do know that certain ochres of the same kind vary in different parts of the world. For example, Indian red ochre (bengara from India) has different attributes than Arizona red ochre. So, in my studio, I keep them in separate jars. This is the case for many of my resources- even binders (another subject for a future blog post).
Road to Jaisalmer, 2015, mineral pigments, spinach and turmeric powders, indigo, Taj Mahal marble, pure silver on Kumohada paper on panel, 24” x 30”, signed verso
However, in the case of this work, Road to Jaisalmer, I made an exception. I wanted to "build" a painting that would reference encounters from several trips to India between 1995 and 2005, so I did actually include pigment from organic and inorganic substances that I had collected there. The Taj Mahal rock was found on site during renovation. I couldn't resist "borrowing" just a few pieces. The organic items are spinach and turmeric powder, purchased on the street in little yellow plastic boxes wrapped in gold thread. The saffron was used in cooking- so it never made it in the studio mortar.
This piece is a good example of my signature layering. Each layer hides and reveals, while trapping light, texture and pattern. My inner landscapes and figure ground shifts are really showcased here.
I will be writing more over the coming weeks about each work in the exhibition in between sacred new-creation time. In the meantime, enjoy the video and hope to see you at the Mattatuck.