One way to call attention to the particularity, to the thisness, of an ordinary object is to make it into something unexpected. It is itself but also something contradictory at the same time. This is the project I undertook in the Alchemy Scrolls: Transformation of Earth (residing at Brookland Pint on the Arts Walk and available at Black Lab in custom sizes.) I started with resonant objects, some of my favorite things: tools and food. I have been wanting to do something with this clothespin for a long time. And the antique potato smasher. And I fell in love with some crazy Hungarian peppers at the farmers market. Not to mention the supremely strange long purple turnip. Garlic scapes have always delighted me with their giggly squirms. The hammer was left in my previous house by the contractor who later died and I swore I would never hire another contractor because Tom was too damn wonderful to replace. No more renovations for me. But I cherish the hammer. Etc.
This is the point in my thought process where things don't resolve, they stack up like layers of polyphony, and the resolution happens with the viewer of the work. I hope. I can only point at threads which I pulled together in these works. So here goes:
I thought first of making angels, and then of making dragons. Alchemy is the transformation of materials, of base materials into exalted materials. Tools have an aura, a quidity, an appropriateness, a beauty in good function. Food is a locus of passion and culture. Vegetables mean life, vitality, the transformation of light into energy. Tools and vegetables are of the earth. Tools are the transformation of matter into energy, energy in the sense of making. Tools are used to transform the world into the actualization of an idea (building with tools according to a plan). Food is transformed into our bodies, fuel for our bodies. Vegetables, from the earth, are transformed into food through the agency of fire, air, and water (cooking)—the backgrounds of the scrolls show the elements of fire, air, and water.
So this is as close as I can get to explaining what was going through my head when I was making these works.