‘Alchemical Vessels’ offers bowls full of healing
Asking multiple artists to execute variations on a single item is a familiar gambit, as anyone who happens upon a tricked-up fiberglass donkey or elephant around town will be reminded. The object in the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery’s “Alchemical Vessels” is a bowl, but the 125 contributors to this show didn’t begin with a piece of identical crockery to decorate. The finished objects are made from — to list only a few — acrylic, wood, pumice, raw clay and red flocking. The variations don’t stop there: The pieces include Barbara Frank’s spiraling twigs that penetrate the surface, Rosana Azar’s paintbrush tips arrayed in a circle and Bridget Sue Lambert’s toy house that sits on artificial turf inside its dishy setting.
The exhibition is a benefit for the Smith Center for Healing, which works with cancer survivors and caregivers. The center calls the vessels in the display metaphors for itself, “a space where healing can take place.” That aside, the bowl is an archetypal geometric shape, and one that neatly defines inside and out. Some of the bowls are jokey, while others seem solemn and even devotional. (Flip a bowl over, as Shelly Lowenstein does, and it looks like a Buddhist stupa.) Add the opposition between soft and hard, and the possibilities for juxtaposition become vast.