Alchemy 5: Transformation in Contemporary Enamels

Exhibition  /  23 Nov 2019  -  29 May 2020
Published: 18.11.2019
Steffi Götze. Brooch: The Silence Between Us, 2019. Enamel, silver, copper, steel.. 5.5 x 7 x 2 cm. Photo by: Carlos Rodriguez Garcia. Steffi Götze
Brooch: The Silence Between Us, 2019
Enamel, silver, copper, steel.
5.5 x 7 x 2 cm
Photo by: Carlos Rodriguez Garcia
© By the author. Read Copyright.

Alchemy 5 is the 17th Biennial International Juried Enamel Exhibition and 13th International Juried Student Enamel Exhibition, sponsored by The Enamelist Society. The Exhibitions highlight the best in contemporary enamels produced in the last two years.

Artist list

Natalia Araya, Curtis Arima, Gayane Avetisyan, Mehrdad Bagherpourhamedani, Martha Banyas, Jane Beiser, Katy Bergman Cassell, Marjorie Burkhart, Harlan Butt, Jessica Calderwood, Mary Chuduk, Joanne Conant, Matthew Coté, Delia Dante, Linda Darty, Anne Dinan, Karin Drechsler-Ruhmann, Howard Eisman, Lynn Floriano, Priscilla Frake, Pat Frese, Herbert Friedson, Terry Fromm, Beate Gegenwart, Steffi Götze, Charity Hall, Lisa Harman, Jan Harrell, Mana Hewitt, Chiachen Hsu, Hsiao Han Huang, Marianne Hunter, Mi-Sook Hur, Lauralee Hutson, Janly Jaggard, June Jasen, Dawoon Jeong, Jui-Lin Kao, Mary Klein, Songhee Lee, Debbie Leh-Pargac, Christina Lemon, Xinchen Li, Houston Llew, Alisa Looney, Amy Roper Lyons, Cessna Manalili, Jennifer Marcson, Barbara Marder, Matthew Mauk, Barbara McFadyen, Richard McMullen, Karla Mendoza, Valerie Mitchell, Patricia Nelson, Kim Nogueira, Kathryn Osgood, Alison Pack, Emily Pellini, Sarah Perkins, Jeanie Pratt, Judith Pyle, Rhiannon Radu, Gail Reid, Cate Richards, René Roberts, Fay Rooke, Barbara Ryman, Alejandra Salinas, Marissa Saneholtz, Jessi Sawyer, Julie Shaw, Averill Shepps, Tammi Sloan, Jan Smith, Roberta Smith, Mary Stafford, Courtney Stenman, Vivian Stillwell, Judy Stone, Sma Tyson, Karen Utke, Krisztina Nagy Vagenas, Jan Van Diver, Ursula Vourvoulis, Wenjing Wan, Sishi Wang, Lillian Webster, Eleanor Kee Wellman, Elizabeth White-Pultz, Katharine Wood, Yutong Wu, Mengyun Xiong, Yihan Yuan, Dan Zoelle
Alchemy is a term that refers to a seemingly magical power of transmutation as well as the ancient chemical philosophy of turning base metal into gold or silver, can apply to enamel as it is magically transformed by heat.

The International Juried Exhibition showcases the work of enamelists that demonstrate aesthetic and technical expertise. The Student Exhibition, which is always very inspiring, features the work of students in accredited degree programs throughout the world.

Text from the exhibition catalogue:

If the art world is any indication of trends, enamel is having its day.  Recently the prestigious Gagosian gallery showed renowned industrial designer Marc Newson’s Chinese produced cloisonné enamel furniture.  It seems that the rest of the world now knows what we enamelists have always known, the exquisite beauty of enamel.

One of the oldest and most universal of mediums, enamel has been used for everything - royal portraits and all manner of liturgical objects, bathtubs and cooking pots, priceless objects de art and grandpa’s lodge pins.  From its beginning as a material reserved for the glorification of the powerful in society, enamel has become democratized and so technically broadened that the elements of scale, surface, and image in contemporary enamel are different by several orders of magnitude from what they were even 100 years ago.  New techniques are continually being added to the enamelist’s repertoire, and an expanded set of skills and materials has moved rapidly between enamels, ceramics, and glass - first cousins that until recently have more or less stayed within their own boundaries.  China paints, stains, pencils, decals, photos and other materials that once were the sole domain of other media have crossed over into enamel, and enameling skills have entered into the worlds of glass and ceramics. These crossovers yield a milieu which is increasingly rich and diverse.  Yet enamelists hold firmly to ancient and revered skills such as cloisonné.  Only enamel has the capacity to play with transparency and depth in a way that seems to exceed physical possibility.  It is a good time to be an enamellist.

Among the many goals The Enamelist Society set for itself when it was initially established, one primary goal was to organize superb quality exhibitions that would showcase the wondrous medium of enamel on metal.  Once again, The Enamelist Society is proud to present a set of exhibitions – “Alchemy5, The 17th International Biennial Juried Exhibition” and the “13th Biennial Student Exhibition” - along with this accompanying catalogue.  TES understands the importance of printing a catalogue for every one of our biennial exhibitions.  These catalogues have become important historical documents recording the development of enameling during the past 30 plus years.  At our last TES Board Meeting in Atlanta earlier this year, I obtained a collection of catalogues going back to 1997.  It was revealing and gratifying to track the careers of many prominent enamelists from their fledgling days as students to the confident artists they have become.  Likewise, it was equally gratifying to see many accomplished enamelists produce strong and ever evolving work after a period of years – in some cases decades.

Here we are at “Alchemy5”.  We have decided to retain the word “alchemy” because nothing else quite captures the enameling experience.  Techniques and imagery may change, and cross fertilization with many other areas of art and design may occur, but those magic moments of inserting and removing a piece from the kiln, or watching the shift from powder to glassy surface using a torch, remain.  No matter what techniques they use, the alchemy of application and firing dazzles, and often frustrates, enamelists.  Risk is always present when glass meets heat.  The results continue to enchant or bedevil us.

/Patricia Nelson, President, Enamelist Society.
Kim Nogueira. Object: A mask and a mirror in the mouth of truth, Escape from the river Lethe, 2018. Copper, brass, bronze, nickel, vitreous enamel.. 7.2 x 7.2 x 2 cm. Photo by: Kim Nogueira. From series: East of Hercules. Automata. Kim Nogueira
Object: A mask and a mirror in the mouth of truth, Escape from the river Lethe, 2018
Copper, brass, bronze, nickel, vitreous enamel.
7.2 x 7.2 x 2 cm
Photo by: Kim Nogueira
From series: East of Hercules

© By the author. Read Copyright.
Gayanne Avetisyan. Brooch: Different Points of View, 2019. Enamel, decals, copper, sterling silver, cubic zirconia, 24K foil.. 5 x 3 x 2.2 cm. Photo by: Anthony McLean. Gayanne Avetisyan
Brooch: Different Points of View, 2019
Enamel, decals, copper, sterling silver, cubic zirconia, 24K foil.
5 x 3 x 2.2 cm
Photo by: Anthony McLean
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Patricia Nelson. Brooch: Totem, 2019. Silver, copper, enamel, silver foil, citrine, digital decals.. 8.9 x 7 x 1.3 cm. Photo by: Serena Nancarrow. Patricia Nelson
Brooch: Totem, 2019
Silver, copper, enamel, silver foil, citrine, digital decals.
8.9 x 7 x 1.3 cm
Photo by: Serena Nancarrow
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Charity Hall. Brooch: Cotinus Beetles, 2019. Enamel, copper, brass, silver, peridot, yellow cubic.. Ø 5.7 cm. Photo by: Charity Hall. Charity Hall
Brooch: Cotinus Beetles, 2019
Enamel, copper, brass, silver, peridot, yellow cubic.
Ø 5.7 cm
Photo by: Charity Hall
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Yihan Yuan. Ring: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, 2019. Enamel, silver.. 3.18 x 3.8 x 3.8 cm. Yihan Yuan
Ring: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, 2019
Enamel, silver.
3.18 x 3.8 x 3.8 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.