January 13 - February 25, 2024

Ordinary Alchemy

Curated by Emilie Houssart 

The three artists in this exhibit present works based on the processing of mundane cultural ephemera: printed papers, grains of rice, vintage documents, and rusted old tools. With extraordinary care and labor, these utilitarian materials are transmuted into unfamiliar forms that command new attention from their more humble original purpose.

Hayoon Jay Lee uses uncooked rice to weave together both thriving and inequity in daily human histories around the globe. Exquisitely reconfigured in mass, Lee’s works call us to be present with opposing forces in tension: need and abundance, striving and fulfillment, connected in the fragility and power of basic daily nourishment.

Doug Navarra cultivates relationships with found historical documents and objects connected with the daily working lives of the past. Navarra’s responses honor these unique, everyday artifacts and their associated workers – simultaneously decommissioning the objects with new layers that illuminate the distance between a past world and our own.

Through deep and ongoing meditative labor, Xuewu Zheng works everyday found objects into forms embedded with vast quantities of social data. His source materials, which include international newspapers, religious texts, and fast food receipts, are reformed through small, repetitive actions into massive post-legible archives that recall burial mounds, trash piles; ancient scrolls and food mats.

Speak Nearby: A performance by Hayoon Jay Lee

The installations and performances of Hayoon Jay Lee are rituals of extreme peace and hope. Dressed in an all-white traditional Korean hanbok, Lee interacts with the audience and her artwork in an uplifting and heartfelt way. This performance was videotaped by Bastille Day Films on January 20, 2024 at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts Woodstock, NY in conjunction with the exhibition’s opening reception.

ORDINARY ALCHEMY Exhibition Catalogue