TPCAC | P.O. Box 863 | Troy, AL 36081 | (334) 670-2287

Crucibles & Icons of High Heat
Scott Meyer Ceramic Sculpture

Lower Level Galleries: January 13 through February 20, 2016

"I had discovered, early in my researches, taht the [alchmeist's] doctrine was no mere chemical fantasy, but a philosphy they applied to the world, to the elements, and to man himself."  —W. B. Yeats in Rosa Alchemica

 

Alchemy and the Crucible

At a time before matter, mind and heart were regarded as separate entities, alchemy was a field that celebrated their interdependence and mutual influence. The vessel for this confluence of thought was the crucible. Within its thick walls the elemental world found psychological and spiritual equivalents and were placed in flux. The "alloy" produced was literally and figuratively a revelation.

If there was a place in our own time where the physical and metaphysical are still allowed a shared vocabulary, it may well be in the heat of the craftsman's studio. Through deft manipulation fire, earth, air and water are made as poetic as they are palpable. Here again, the central tool is the crucible; on of hisotry's most indelible and pervasive icons for actual and symbolic transformation.

The Crucible as Catalyst for Sculpture

For almost ten years, the focus of my work has been the crucible in both industrial and alchemical contexts. These are objects about heat that gain both meaning and aethetic with their firing in the anagam (a high heat wood-fired kiln that tends to leave evidence of the process on the work). They are vessels with important history in a number of cultures and time periods. Their function is to house and facilitate physical transofrmation and at times to unite disparate elements. These physical attributes and processes led very rapidly to philosophical overlays. For me the crucilbe became the embodiment of the concept of Gestalt. As the physical begins to approach the philosohical, the spiritual is evoked and the subject of alchemy (both historically and metaphorically) becomes relevant. Eventually references are in play from literature, folklore, science and superstition.

The attending attributes (funnels, ladles, heat sources, air vents, siphoning devices) bring additional content and vocabulary. My research visits have ranged from a historically preserved blast furnace to a museum of chemical heritage (focused on a variety of chemical process strategies across history and culture). A fortuitous association with a university colleague introduced me to prallel issues in European literature. Finally, with the clay vessel long having been habitually banished to the "decorative arts" by critical thought, there is irony in its use as a comment on "fine art" issues.

Dr. Scott Meyer