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Brooklyn: Alchemy Art Exhibition

Sounds like a lot of scienctific research and experiments are being performed in a lab. Well, the experiments have been performed and conclusion have been drawn but not to be mistaken with a lab, the mystical and magical concept of alchemy has been presented in the form of artworks at “Alchemy”, an exhibition by BRIC- the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, and one of the largest in New York City.

Alchemy which is widely believed to come from ancient Egypt and considered to be the highest form of all the arts since the middle ages, alongside chemistry before the periodic table. This process which transforms something in a mysterious way, has the artist create a mystery just like alchemy does in it’s process of transmutation. These seven artists employ the scientific methods of transmutation in their art pieces in order to depict the dialogues on gender, body, race and environemnt. The exhibition commenced on June 27 with it’s opening reception and will be on view through August 12. Exhibiting artists include Nicole Awai, Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels, Borinquen Gallo, Phoebe Grip, Miatta Kawinzi, Anna Riley, and Kennedy Yanko. The show has been curated by Elizabeth Ferrer and Jenny Gerow.

This exhibition might come as a surprise to the viewer, as here artists express themselves by infusing new ideas and thoughts into an ancient technique. It is quite intriguing to know about artist’s artworks at the exhibition. Nicole Awai, uses tar to refer to the Black body. While integrating femininity outside of the bounds of a bodily form, Awai comments on the capacity of common objects to maintain social and political agendas. Awai's work oscillates between a striking three-dimensionality and a more decorative quality. Installation by Borinquen Gallo's merges the interior and exterior space of the gallery by featuring planters suspended along the building's outdoor walkway. Inspired by the idea of radical transformation and focusing on common materials, including society's detritus, she creates objects of vibrant beauty - a form of recycling that also acts as a poetic call for environmental preservation. The careful weaving of her yellow and black materials, typically produced collectively, also plays with the idea of a beehive, aggrandizing craftsmanship and community harmony. Kennedy Yanko's installation include suspended sculptures made from found pieces of twisted metal and the rubbery skins of dried paint; these works offer a visceral experience of form and materiality while also creating a dialogue about gender and the shifting nature of identity.

Serra Victoria adds more to the installation, with her complex structures made from discarded housing materials-especially old lath wood-imagines systems both geological and genealogical. Her works evoke an ever-expanding network of crystalline structures. For her sculptural installations, she uses discarded housing materials to create complex structures featuring triangular patterns that recall the natural arrangement and mystical qualities of crystal structures. By mimicking the wooden materials of constructed space, Bothwell Fels references functionality but recalibrates it, turning found materials into something artistic. In the accompanying set of drawings, she aims to expose the miraculous and complex underlying structures that exist in the natural world.

Anna Riley's paper thin sheets of limestone point to the architectural qualities of delicate materials while refer the historical tradition of manuscripts containing alchemical recipes. For Alchemy, Riley presents a work in the form of a large manuscript, an emblem that carries alchemical theories of the past. Rather than reenact this form by inscribing her handmade paper with alchemical recipes, Riley exhibits the material of the pages as the manuscript's content. In place of a traditional spine, Riley includes a glass armature that is echoed in the standing glass pages on pedestals. These pages, consolidated with pages made of lime, point to the labor-intensive physical and chemical processes of papermaking as well as its architectural uses. Phoebe Grip produces enigmatic imagery made from such delicate materials as horsehair, fishing line, and string. Through her video practice and her series of woven and wire sculptures of snare traps, Grip addresses themes of predation and gender, granting the female experience delicacy, primacy and ephemerality. Miatta Kawinzi's Pouvoir (Power) is a room-size installation with a large wall projection that will explore ideas related to diaspora, mobility, language, and change. Her performance accompanying the work use language, movement, and sound to evoke the elements and to suggest the personal power needed to create change.

Wow! One has to be really creative to link up science with fine art and taking it to a third level, where artworks aim to create dialogues on current titles of this century such as race, gender, body and environment as a whole. There is more to this event. As is BRIC’s tradition for summer exhibitions, Alchemy will be accompanied by a series of lively Wednesday evening and Friday afternoon public programs including those dedicated to conversation, performance, dance, and the healing arts.

These artists have beautifully and intelligently created and have brought up a great awareness for the present day perspective, using the ancient media. This exhibition truly feels like a perfect fusion of fine art and science that educate us about the social, spiritual, psychological and political dialogues.

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