Ahlert, Dawn M.
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The language of alchemy can be used in describing my images. Alchemy has a condensed system of symbols common to dreams, poetry, and the visual arts. Psychologists such as C.G. Jung have found a connection between dream images and alchemy. In medieval times, practitioners of alchemy believed that they might be able to transform the base metals into precious metals through technique and imagination. Philosophically, this system was inspired by the hope of solving one of the mysteries of life; the relationship between good and evil and how the base aspects of life are transformed into the noble. The 1500 years in which alchemy was practiced led to an elaborate list of metaphors. The three worlds in which one can exist in alchemy consist of the black nigredo, the white albedo, and the red riibedo. These states are symbolic for our psychological and spiritual experience. We can relate each alchemical image to our own experiences, both inward and outward. In this common psychological ground, whether in dream or in imagination, we might also find insights that challenge or amplify our inner experience or understanding. The world of the nigredo is of particular interest to me. This is where my images exist. According to the standards of alchemy, the initial phase of every process begins here in the black world where transformation can take place. However, before a form can change, it must first rot, decay, and be reduced to the rubble of disconnected parts in which the creative power can be released and freed. The individualization process takes place in the nigredo, for in the dark of the soul we confront the shadow within. One must completely experience this state in order to move to the next level of the albedo,'the world of reflections and then on to the rvbedo, the world of light, where full realization occurs. . . . The process that I enlist to create my paintings is used to enhance the viewer’s understanding of the nigredo. The aggressive marks and scrapes help to illustrate feelings of control that an individual wishes in their life. The splatters and drips show the contradictory feeling of loss of power, qualities of the black world. The limited palette, especially the ‘black and blue’ brings to mind the sensations of being bruised, depressed, helpless, and isolated in a colorless world of darkness. The ‘blue transit’ is symbolic of the movement towards'the albedo. Blue is between black and white and the nigredo and the albedo.