Visual Arts

The Artistic Alchemy of Six Artists

Artistic alchemy is being celebrated at the Department of Art at Western Connecticut State University in the 2024 Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition at Blue Mountain Gallery, 547 West 27th St., Suite 200, N.Y.C. Opening reception is Thursday June 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibition will run from June 18-July 6, 2024.

Amy Caco, “False Gods”, colored pencil and gouache on paper, 26.5 x 19

Does a young artist starting out feel like an alchemist? Viewing Amy Caco’s magical Illustrations demonstrates that she has the goods. The artwork titled False Gods is a powerful image with an angelic woman painted in cool purple and blue, against a golden background. Two small girls with uplifted heads are imploring the angel. The face of the angel shows vulnerability, anguish and a world-weary sadness that suggests doubt that she is a heavenly being. She seduces with her beauty even as one is filled with apprehension about this angel-like creature with her own set of burdens who might not be able to help others. There’s a cultural underpinning
to the title: to beware of false gods, whether it is information that we get on social media or mistruths that abound in the digital world.

In another piece, titled Hunted, with a mysterious quote at the bottom, is a young man dressed as a hunter, with cape, a bow and arrow ready to sling as arrows from an unseen enemy are impaling him from all angles. One assumes that the hunter too, is being hunted and put in harm’s way. Caco uses soft colors in blues, pinks, and corals and by using this softness she uses contrast to show the dangerous world she places her characters in. Caco is indeed a storyteller and talented illustrator.

Lucy Gallagher, “Mother,” oil on canvas, 36 x 36

Lucy Gallagher knows she is an alchemist. In her portraits we see a fantastical figure, half human female and half animal, with a bold, frontal view of her on the forest floor. This entity stares fiercely at the viewer. The face of this being is painted in dabs of golden yellow in a magical depiction of strength, cunning and power. This is what alchemy is—transformation.

Gallagher’s other piece is a self-portrait. She sits with her legs crossed in a relaxed position. Perhaps it is the Lucy of the future. Her face is calm and she stares directly at the viewer. A look of wisdom and knowing is there set against the deep blues of her shirt and the wall. The bottom half of the picture is in the glow of yellow orange as she is surrounded by both warm and cool colors. What is she thinking?

Taylor Green, “Lovers,” oil on canvas, 52 x 54

Taylor Green’s sorcery begins with her commitment of exploring the human experience as a visual anthropologist. In the work called Body Bags, she’s unafraid to present us with the unthinkable; a trail of body bags scattered across a meadow. Yet, the body bags take on an animated quality with their pink tones, pale folds and cushiony surface implying that those who have died still carry life in them. When one looks quickly at them, one imagines they are clouds fallen to earth.

Green’s piece titled Lovers is an oil painting in deep reds, pinks, and maroon. Some of the figures are indistinguishable, yet have movement throughout the image. In the upper left corner is a shape that looks like a shark’s head with an open mouth ready to devour what comes its way. At the base of the painting is a dragon-like figure holding a spear. Is Green sending us a warning about love in this passionate rendition? Or is she too, seriously or playfully, dazzling us with her artistic wizardry?

The idea of alchemy is about transforming metal into gold…and these graduate students are already making gold

Andrew Mark, “Yeti Momos,” digital image

Andrew Mark enchants us with his Japanese anime style. His bright and colorful animation reveals a skilled hand at drawing whimsical pieces. In the work titled, Yeti Momos, yeti is another word for the abominable snowman and momos means tribal priest or spiritual leader. Mark’s charm is in full form as the yeti is portrayed as a smiling and cuddly creature with a young girl who sits in front of him with a plateful of dumplings in some kind of celebration. Mark bespeaks joy and an affinity for using color in a balanced way honoring play and imagination. Much of his subjects are based on folklore and mythology. His alchemy is in his storytelling.

William John Parrott III, “Connecting Thoughts”, mixed media, 24 x 36

The artist William Parrott III offers us the mysterious in his subtle abstract mixed media paintings, using multiple processes and techniques to create his textured and muted artworks. If one were sitting in a comfortable chair staring at these pieces, one would feel as though they just swallowed an elixir where these calm, subdued works mellowed one into a meditative state. Parrott uses soft, pastel colors in two of his works, Tranquility and Lost in Translation.

In Connecting Thoughts, he offers us a textured trail of paint in aqua and coral. Beautifully done, Connecting Thoughts evinces exactly what a connecting thought might look like. In the third work titled Lost In Translation the colors are deeper, and richer. Parrott has earned his alchemy stripes.

Denise Rosa “Meditation,” oil on canvas 40 x 30

Denise Rosa’s current work is primarily portraiture. The piece called Generosity is a woman dressed in a clownish outfit, with a cloud-like dress, bright, striped socks and a red hat, who is looking into a mirror holding a bouquet of flowers. Is this a portrait of a playful woman accepting and loving herself as she looks in the mirror? That is generosity. To embrace the clown in the woman and outfit she wears one can hear her whisper, ”I love you” as she sees her reflection. Even this character has asserted her alchemy, as does Rosa.

In the artwork called Meditation we see an older woman at her sewing machine stitching a patchwork quilt. The design of the brilliant colors of the quilt fill up three quarters of the canvas as if it were a giant banner that celebrates the creative act of this older woman. The young Rosa and the older woman both share the transmutation of beauty and love in their art.

The idea of alchemy is about transforming metal into gold. And these graduate students are already making gold at WCSU. They have just begun their life as artistic sorcerers. G&S

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