Watercolor and Pastel Artists at CHAW
Alchemy: the process of transforming something in a mysterious or impressive way. That’s what Ellen Cornett has done with the work she created for the Alchemical Vessels Exhibition for the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts on U Street in northwest DC.
Each of the 125 invited artists was given a plain wooden cigar box and told to turn it into art for the exhibition with the underlying theme of “What helps you heal?”
For her work of alchemy, titled “Blackbird,” Ellen made charcoal drawings of a blackbird-human on each surface of the cigar box. She also removed the original hardware on the box and used seam tape and ornamental buttons from her late mother’s sewing box to tie the box’s top and bottom together.
What I like best about “Blackbird” is how Ellen used the exhibit theme—both her process and the outcome. Ellen believes wholeness includes hope, play, love, and creative work, and in the end she decided to do something that makes her happy, which is drawing with charcoal.
So how did a blackbird-human get into this? Two things Ellen told me: First, she is inspired by the Beatles song “Blackbird” because it is about moving past broken wings, blindness, and the dark black night to rise and be free. The lyrics send a powerful message about struggle and transcendence. Second, she has a lot of fun putting bird heads and wings on people.
This is the fourth year that the Smith Center has had an Alchemical Vessels Exhibition as a fundraiser. The center asked 20 area art curators to name top artists to contribute. Each donor who contributes $150 to the special event benefit gets to choose a work of alchemy to take home. The opening reception is March 18, 7:00-9:00 pm. The benefit event is April 29. Benefit tickets go on sale March 7. Opportunities to choose an alchemical vessel will be given in the order in which benefit tickets are purchased, so if you want “Blackbird,” go online March 7!