I had discovered, early in my researches, that their doctrine was no mere chemical fantasy, but a philosophy they applied to the world, to the elements, and to man himself; and that they sought to fashion gold out of common metals merely as part of an universal transmutation of all things into some divine and imperishable substance; and this enabled me to make my little book a fanciful reverie over the transmutation of life into art, and a cry of measureless desire for a world made wholly of essences. - W.B. Yeats, Rosa Alchemica
7Eleven Gallery is pleased to announce “Alchemy”, a group exhibition, running from January 12th – February 18th at 711 Washington Street in the West Village. The exhibition features artists Thomas Beale, Lucas Blalock, Nick Doyle, Adam Fuss, GAINES, Elissa Goldstone, Eve Andrée Laramée, Eva Lewitt, Dylan Lynch, Thomas McDonell, Casey Neistat, Lesley Raeside, Jason Reppert, Alex Rickard, Keith Sonnier, Michael St. John, William Stone, John Torreano and Rob Wynne.
The most common definition of alchemy is the process of turning base metals into gold. Over the years it has also been interpreted, metaphorically, as the transmutation of materials into a higher form; scientifically, as a study of compounds and matter; religiously and mystically, as the union of man and the divine for the goal of achieving a level of perfect balance on a quest for the greater refinement of self.
These interpretations were the inspiration behind the work of the eighteen artists featured in 7Eleven Gallery’s “Alchemy.” The making of art is alchemy. Artists have the ability to transmute ordinary objects into extraordinary works, giving new meaning to their previous purpose. The artists featured in this exhibition seized this power.
Many of the works directly reference alchemy, while others imply it. Some deal with elements found in nature and their transformation into art; others use science to create natural forms, such as light. Materials found in everyday life are distorted into various structures, which transcend their original significance. Nature, science, mysticism and the altering of common items give a sense of enchantment and wonder to the overall exhibition.
William Stone presents two identical sculptures, one wood and the other a bronze copy. The original wood piece was created by a beaver and found in a beaver damn in upstate New York. The beaver is the artist and Stone sees himself as his assistant, bringing the piece to the foundry; “The art foundry is the alchemist, transforming artists made detritus into gold colored metal.”
Lesley Raeside’s Alchemy Series of drawings is about the transformation of plants into medicine, the energetics and healing properties of herbs and their therapeutic effect on the body, mind and spirit.
Through optical experimentation, Alex Rickard has harnessed the optical properties of corn syrup to create a prismatic light environment. Rickard’s work appears along side Eve Andrée Laramée’s “Invisible Fire”, an installation that repurposes Depression-era glass that fluoresces under ultraviolet light. Glass is a material historically used for alchemical vessels; the use of uranium oxide as a pigment dates back to 79 AD Rome. Uranium’s use as a glass pigment was sharply curtailed during the Cold War due to military “need” and Depression glass has since become a collectible. “Invisible Fire” follows Laramée’s 2009 installation, “Halfway to Invisible” drawing attention to the environmental, health and labor issues concerning nuclear weapons development and proliferation and its complex partnership with the nuclear energy industry.
In this installment, GAINES has transformed four previously abandoned doors into playable musical sculptures. Electrified, each door expresses its own, otherwise unheard, sound.
This exhibition was curated by Sabrina Blaichman, Caroline Copley and Genevieve Hudson-Price. 7Eleven is a nomadic art gallery first opened in the Summer of 2008 in the West Village. After two group shows in a warehouse in Chelsea, including 2010’s “Make Yourself At Home” featuring seventy-six artists, the gallery has found its way back to the West Village. 7Eleven is dedicated to showcasing the work of young and emerging artists as well as the more established of the art world.