I’m very pleased to be showing work at Inner State Gallery in Detroit. Alchemy was curated by my dear friend Monica Canilao, whose work and craft has inspired me since we met years ago. She stitches together art and life in a beautiful way that few others of my generation have and I’m happy to call her family.
I’ll be showing a sequential triptych depicting the alchemical Prima Materia and birth of the creative spirit.
Here is an excerpt of a fantastic article (full article here) by Paul Levy that really nails the idea I hope to describe:
To the extent that the alchemists realized they were projecting outside of themselves their own divinity so as to recognize it within themselves, was the extent to which the alchemists were unlocking the key to their own self-empowerment. If an alchemist realized the reflective and revelatory nature of what he was experiencing in his miraculous lapis, which he himself equated with Christ, to quote Jung, he would “have been obliged to recognize that he had taken the place of Christ – or, to be more exact, that he, regarded not as ego but as self, had taken over the work of redeeming not man, but God. He would then have had to recognize not only himself as the equivalent of Christ, but Christ as a symbol of the self.” Compared to Christ, who, as the Word made flesh, was the full-bodied incarnation of the Light, each one of us are instruments for the reunion and re-uniting of the paradoxical God which contains both light and dark. We are the alchemical vessels prepared by God expressly for the purpose of uniting the opposites intrinsic to Its nature.
Jung reflects that, “Whereas in Christ God himself became man, the filius philosophorum [the son of the philosophers, i.e., the stone, analogous to the son of man] was extracted from matter by human art and, by means of the opus, made into a new light-bringer [interestingly, the archetypal “light-bringer” is Lucifer]. In the former case the miracle of man’s salvation is accomplished by God; in the latter, the salvation or transfiguration of the universe is brought about by the mind of man – ‘Deo concedente’ [God willing], as the authors never fail to add…Man takes the place of the Creator” The sacred, meta-physical art of the alchemists was to liberate the creative spirit of the cosmos, which they could only accomplish with the blessing of the creative spirit which is God. Creative artists of and for the soul, the alchemists were being a channel for the universe to autopoetically re-create itself in a uniquely evolutionary way. In Jung’s words, “…man is indispensible for the completion of creation; that, in fact, he himself is the second creator of the world.”
In exploring their unconscious through the material world, the alchemists were potentially waking themselves up to the dreamlike nature of reality. In becoming lucid in the dream of life, they were realizing how they could transform the world by transforming themselves. We are all potential alchemists-in-training to the extent we are consciously participating in giving creative expression to our experience of the unconscious. When enough of us become accomplished in the sacred art of alchemy, we can connect and “conspire to co-inspire” each other, I imagine, to activate our collective genius and create real magic, changing the world in the process. As the alchemist Gerhard Dorn proclaims, “Transform yourselves into living philosophical stones!”