Crucible, No. 7

carbon, cinnabar, freshwater pearl, gold on paper
48 x 32 inches

collaboration with Timothy C. Ely



The exhibition opens at the height of the Persiad Meteor Shower, which I take to be a very auspicious sign. I am often asked the origin of ideas for paintings.  During the spring of 2010, I experienced a remarkable string of dreams that were inspired by working with meteorites.  One evening, I had the following dream:

I am holding a large cabbage, but I sense that it is not a cabbage, and that it holds a secret. When I peel back the first leaf I find that it is hinged to the stalk. I can turn the leaf back and forth on the hinge. The hinge is made of a supple metal. When I push in at its base, the leaf is released. I carefully study how the hinge is made, moving several more leaves back on forth, seeing how they seamlessly interlock. My attention then turns to the leaves themselves. As I open my way further into the cabbage the leaves become smoother and I see that there is writing on them, perhaps musical inscription of some kind. I continue releasing leaves, but they become sharp, so I must turn with with a fork. They also become increasingly brittle, and I know that if I break them I will lose the secret. At this point I feel myself rush in to fill my own dreaming self, as if my self has been sucked here by the cabbage. Taking the stalk in one hand, I thrust the cabbage under a stream of water so that the top of it receives the full force of the flow. The rest of the leaves peel effortlessly back, exposing a single tiny seed. I know it is a mustard seed that is also a meteorite. This is yours, I tell myself. And I take the seed and put it in my mouth. I turn the cabbage upside down. The water closes the leaves again.


Timothy C. Ely arrived a few days after that dream and I recounted this dream to him, telling him that I thought the cabbage was some sort of oneiric crucible.  We set out to paint into this idea of the crucible and those first glimmering kernels of transmuted metal.