Artist Linda Rzoska opened her studio to Alchemy participants to experiment with encaustic media. Workshop participants were introduced to embedding elements into wax, incorporating mixed media such as oil pastels, paper and found objects – as well as a variety of mark making techniques.
Linda and Elizabeth King demonstrated the management of the medium and materials.
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The Play’s the Thing…
On Wednesday, September 21, 2016, Debby and Arnie Johnston conducted The Play’s the Thing, a workshop on writing dialogue, at their enchanting home in Kalamazoo. An enthusiastic group of Alchemists—fueled by wine and snacks—then worked together on playwriting techniques. Several writers read their own pieces, and Arnie and Debby read one of their short plays by way of example. Everyone seemed to have a good time.
On a beautiful August day, ALCHEMY was invited into the home of Sydnee and Tony Peters. We started off with a bread demo, a delicious, easy yeast-rise seedy salt recipe. After a tasty potluck dinner, Jana Hanka talked about her shamanic practice. Hedy Habra filled us in historically on the Tarot with a lecture titled: “Alchemy: An Introduction to Tarot Interpretation and Symbolism”. Hedy also provided writing prompts related to her lecture. Debbie Eisenbise unwrapped her personal tarot deck from its linen sheathing and led us through a question she had queried Tarot earlier in the day in preparation for the evening, an evening filled with fascinating ideas that addressed the mystical side of alchemy. Resources from Hedy’s lecture can be found on this website.
ALCHEMY participants interested in discussing alchemy related resources are meeting on a series of Monday evenings at Boatyard Brewing in Kalamazoo. Topics range widely from the historical roots of alchemy, poetry, philosophy, psychology and creativity. It’s an ever revolving group of people that show up, some the same, many new to the table, all pull from their bag of tricks thought-provoking additions to the discussion or tasty tidbits to accompany the good brew from Boatyard. The folks at Boatyard have been most generous in providing the space for our group in their back area where the garage door is flung wide; we’ve been lucky to have a good breeze and watch the sun set before us. Resources shared can be found on this website.
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Begin With A Rattle
ALCHEMY was welcomed into the enchanting home, studio, and gardens of Paul and Brenda Mergen, where we were introduced to their work, ever in progress, and lovingly attended to by artistic hands and thoughtful minds. Paul had much to share because as he sees it, he has been engaged in one alchemical examination after another. We strolled though their gardens so full with Michigan flora and art objects, nooks and crannies to behold and ponder. He showed us his collections, among those rattles and bells that we played with.
It was a consummate treat to see his and Brenda’s workshops. Her loom room vibrates with color and promise; his metalsmith shop with fire, chemistry, and magic. He read and then we discussed one of Jane Hirshfield’s poems, The Envoy from her book Given Sugar Given Salt. It was all nourishment to the soul, we left feeling peaceful and inspired.
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On June 15th Autumn Brown, metalsmith, drove her studio-bus to Elizabeth Kerlikowske’s home and studio! She talked to us about her life as a metalsmith and artist. She set the interior of her bus up with her concept laden, technically nuanced artworks, and those of other artists she admires. Her work is engaging, and fun to play with, many with locking component parts and creative fixings. You can view her works at her web page: http://www.autumnbrownarts.com/jewelry/
At her request we each brought a small object that contained both ceramic and metal, such as a spark plug or computer part. There were a number of whatsits, each with an aspect of conductivity, and each with a story.
The poet Margaret DeRitter talked to us about the chemistry behind steel and then circulated a writing prompt that she linked to the subject of the evening. In all, it was interesting and enjoyable!
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The Transformative Present with Horses
On Saturday, May 14th, Kristin DeKam introduced the basic principles of equine therapy, that is, using horses to deepen our awareness of body, emotional intelligence, and intuition from a non-predatory point of view. We discussed essays she distributed in advance, excerpts from the equine-learning specialist, Linda Kohanov’s books, The Power of the Herd and The Way of the Horse. As well, to prep for discussion she instructed us to watch the film, Dakota 38 as an “… an example of how and why the Dakota people are using horses in long distance, ceremonial rides.”
Kristy divided us into groups and half went with her to interact with her horses, Max and Tess. Through her guidance we focused on activities that help mind and body be present, which is at the heart of all equine learning and therapy. She states, “Horses are master teachers of emotional and intuitive intelligence. They are expert readers of emotions, body language, and environmental cues as a means of survival and well being.”
The other group stayed back with the poet, Billy Reynolds. We discussed the readings together and then he provided us with a inspiring writing prompt. We then switch groups so all of us were able to experience all that was offered. Later we enjoyed a beautiful potluck lunch, and discussion was intimate and interesting. In all, it was deep and rejuvenating work. Kristy generously offered to meet with this group again to further the work.
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