The original version of this was destroyed in a flood. Posting here for posterity.
I am very fortunate to be a curator for this year’s Alchemical Vessel’s exhibit at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at Smith Center for healing + the arts in Washington, D.C.
This also makes my second year as a contributing artist. Below are the images on my take of the theme “The Night’s Journey.”
Here is the gallery postcard with the details (click for full size):
This piece is made in a late grandfather’s violin (thank you Jeanne and luthier Susan Hopkins for helping me get it/open). This is in the current show at the Smith Healing Gallery in DC – details here. Without saying too much, I love string instruments that have f-holes. This particular violin echoes a coffin, and the figure of Pierrot is trying to make his way to the Land of the Dead. He is constrained by gold thread, held by clergy-like figures. He is also being pulled onward by silver thread, and is trapped between two worlds. I wonder about famous souls who were idolized during their lives (David Bowie, for example), and how the mass grief of a society might effect a transition to, say, the Land of the Dead.
I created two awards for the 2016 Death Salon Film Festival, which takes place this weekend in Texas. This event is hosted by my pals in the Order of the Good Death. Below – the Jury Award and Audience Favorite (What if the same film maker wins BOTH)???
And, just for fun, here are some process photos.
Here’s a closer look at the Dioramas I took to Diorama-rama II.
To address the theme of “March Madness,” I thought I’d ignore the sportsball and explore the strange, strange energy that Springtime brings:
- How weird I think Easter is as a “holiday,” which combines egg laying bunnies and people rising from the dead (z o m b i e s), and
- Spring Fever!
I started with Spring Fever, as it was low hanging melons, er, fruit. I have a couple of “cute” tins that I’ve never been sure how to use, so I added bunny tails and a blue eyed blonde.
Next, I wanted to use another odd box that’s been on my shelf for a while, which bears the inscription Recuerdo de Esquipulas (I remember Esquipulas).
Esquipulas is a municipality in eastern eastern Guatemala. This city is known as the main point of Central Catholic pilgrimage, as it is the place where they worship the Black Christ of Esquipulas. It is also sometimes an alternate Universe.
I was able to add some of my action figures (cactus head and surrender cowboy), as well as Ms. April from the 1970’s. It looks fabulous in a dark room when the interior diorama light is on.
In my mind, these two pieces actually work together. Neither of them rely heavily on paper cut drawings, which is something I’ve tried only once before.
And I quote: “Wonder Commons presents Diorama-Rama Deux, a celebration of creative storytelling inside the box. Join us in our second year as we compete for awards and celebrate what can be seen through the miniature. Introductory Diorama demonstration by artist Jim Doran.”
So, I set some of my work out and talked with folks about Diorama-ing.
I quickly put together a zine about some of my work.
This event is put on by Wonder Commons – Robert Marbury and his wife Alix Fenhagen.
The theme was “March Madness,” which has something to do with baseball or something. I made two dioramas that are NOT paper cut-outs.
I get a mild form of madness called SPRING FEVER. Perhaps you’ve heard of it – it doesn’t help that, after days of glorious weather, it snowed yesterday.
And here’s part two, which has EVERYTHING to do with baseball:
(More on both of these dioramas can be read in their own post).
I won “Best in Show!”
Please notice that the trophy has two baseball bats AND two cups on top.
This is a smart, fun (and amusing) event. I saw a lot of the same faces from last year’s event, and a few new ones. NEXT YEAR, we are going to have a “make your own diorama session” before the judging kicks off, and I have offered to help people realize their own diorama-rama-ness.
All of the entries were great – here are a few more:
Keep an eye out for next year’s Diorama-rama, and come!
I have watched Art transform people when I worked as an expressive therapist. I know it from my own life, too.
“The definition of alchemy is to transform something toxic into an illuminated substance, which why we ask each artist to transform a cigar box by means of his or her own personal aesthetic and medium—taking a box that would be normally filled with a polarizing object as a cigar and creating an alchemical vessel, an original piece of artwork in order to benefit the Smith Center’s cancer support programs. We hope you will join our efforts in realizing this community-building art exhibition and benefit to support our important work with cancer patients, their caregivers, and veterans.”
As a prompt, artists were encouraged to answer the following 3 questions (either with a partner, or alone). Here they are, if you’d like to follow along at home:
- What is one of the most difficult things you have ever had to go through (Feel free to tell as much or as little of details as you want. But reflect on what was challenging about the situation.)
- What helped you get through that? What did you draw on (friends, family, spiritual practices, God, nutrition, silence, intuition, ……etc)?
- How does getting through that inform or affect the way you live your life now?
The ladder is made from a coffee stirrer.
I spent a couple of days answering these questions and came up with “Out of the Woods,” a diorama containing several of my own alchemic symbols relating to the healing power of making art. And this is the first time I’ve made a diorama in a cigar box.
March 18 – May 6, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, March 18, 7–9pm
Artists’ Closing Reception: Friday, May 6, 7–9pm
More information is on their Website.