Larry and Debby Kline artists and provocateurs – installation, performances, and other works

The Alchemist in His Elements


The Alchemist in His Elements is part of a large-scale installation devoted to the living cycle of trash.  The main character is both ancient and modern.  His garb is loosely based on a Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) jade burial suit, but his imposing stature also brings to mind the Golem, a well-meaning but ultimately problematic creature found in texts dating from the earliest days of Judaic history.  In a contemporary context, The Alchemist has become a sleek superhero, emblematic of industry.


The Alchemist is the original “maker”, an icon for a world that demands cheap, readily available material goods, without concern for the byproducts of manufacturing.   But our relationship with industry is a complicated one.  At its core, the Alchemist also represents our need to design, build and change our environment through understanding the principles that guide our world.


Alchemy is the grandfather of chemistry and the drawings in this exhibition are based on the ancient alchemical principal of the four elements (earth, air, water, and fire).  Air begins the manufacturing process and gives birth to the Alchemist.  Before he draws his first breath, pollution begins to rise from the factories. The Water drawing finds our Alchemist trudging through oceanic trash, towing yet another shipment of goods.  The Fire drawing reveals a planet racked by environmental changes, as the earth swallows the Alchemist, transporting him to a new reality.  In the final drawing, Earth, our planet extends a “trashmosphere” into space.  The Dracos constellation, the serpent of temptation, eagerly awaits our next move.

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