Elemental Mandala, 2010

Meteorite, lapis lazuli, gold and carbon on paper


This evening my exhibition "Elemental Orbits" opens at Willow Gallery in Walla Walla, Washington.  The exhibition features 23 paintings, most of which are new works made with pigments derived from meteorites.  The exhibition's title derives from a recent series of paintings which you can see here.  I will be giving an artist's talk at 6:00 pm.  Come if you can!


Here's the press release:


The exhibition, "Eccentric Orbits," presents new paintings by Walla Walla based artist Ian Boyden. Boyden presents us with images made with pigments derived from meteorites, as well as a set of remarkable collaborative paintings he produced with the artist Timothy C. Ely.  Boyden, who has a degree in Asian Art History, spent over a decade studying and practicing Chinese calligraphy before eventually turning his attention to the history of ink making and the production of his own paints and inks.  He has made inks from many unusual source materials including freshwater pearls, cuttlefish, fossilized shark teeth and whale bones. Boyden allows the stories of whatever materials he makes his ink from to direct the compositions of his paintings.

In this show, the inks in Boyden's solo works are made from meteorite, and the materials direct the compositions and stories locked in meteorites.  The images range from delicate renderings of tree-like forms, to evocations of metallurgical structures of meteoric iron, to dramatic calligraphic studies of chaos.  Commenting on the works in the current exhibition, Boyden writes:
“As stones that fall from the sky, meteorites present a particular challenge to the material imagination.  In a sense meteorites arrive on Earth in a dream-like state because they do something most stones cannot— they fly through the air on their own. What can the material imagination do with material that is already endowed with a momentum we do not generally associate with it? Does the imagination add additional qualities of translucency or radiation? Does it continue to add some aspect of fluid dynamics or some other aqueous logic? Does it try to simply reduce it to the gravitational logic of a sublunary object? The challenge is not one of limitation, but of infinite possibility.”

Friends for over a decade, Timothy C. Ely and Boyden began to make collaborative paintings and books in 2005. As Boyden remarks, “Not long after I wrote the book about Tim, we began to collaborate through painting—as a form of conversation, as a way to access that which is hard to verbalize, as a way to pry open each other's heads to see what was inside.” Over the years, their collaborations have opened many avenues of exploration including ink making, book making, Taoist talismans, alchemy, sacred geometry, and relationships between Zen and particle physics. The results are powerfully direct and mysterious paintings, the likes of which have not been seen before.