Art and Alchemy with Ann McCoy

Ann McCoy

Ann McCoy "The Queen and Red Bird" 2011

Date: Friday, May 13th
Time: 8pm
Admission: $5

Presented by: Phantasmaphile

Alchemy is a way of bridging the opposites.  Through an richly illustrated presentation, artist Ann McCoy will discuss the alchemical imagery in the work of contemporary artists such as Herman Nitsch, James Lee Byers, Joseph Beuys, and Eric Orr, as well as within her own work.

She will touch upon the stages in the Great Work such as the putrefactio, the rubedo, and the albedo, and their relationship to depth psychology and dream imagery — as well as the role of depression, introversion, and dream states.  She will also explore the role of the artist as an alchemist, and the ideas of incarnation, transmutation, and transformation.

Psyche and spirituality have become devalued currency in today’s art world which is focused rather on political and sociological content.  Ann will show how the alchemical model is, in fact, a model for political and spiritual change both in the individual and society.

This talk will be in conjunction with Observatory’s group art show, ALCHEMICALLY YOURS.


Ann McCoy is a New York based sculptor and painter, as well as a curator and published writer who has been involved in studies of comparative religion, Jungian psychology, 15th. century alchemy, and Native American culture for thirty years.  Ann worked with C.G. Jung’s main successor, Dr. C.A. Meier in Zurich for twenty-eight years, and has studied alchemy both in texts and in her dreams.  She currently teaches a class on visual iconography at Yale, in the Drama Department.  A student of alchemy and dreams, McCoy brings her understanding of depth psychology.  She has worked on alchemical studies in the Vatican Library, and the Corsini in Rome.  She also taught in the Art History Department at Barnard College from 1980 through 2000, and her Barnard class appears in the recent documentary: KEEP THE RIVER ON YOUR RIGHT: A MODERN CANNIBAL TALE.

Ann’s work is included in the collections of many major American museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hirshorn, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney and others. She is primarily known for her large format drawings, but also works with light projection, installation, and sculpture.  She has done large-scale projection installations at Majdanek in Poland, and also in New Delhi at KHOJ.  She is the winner of a Prix de Rome, a D.A.A.D. Berliner Kunstler grant, an Award in the American Arts, a Pollack Krasner, and a Gottlieb, among others.  Her work was included in the Venice Biennale ART AND ALCHEMY in 1985.

For the last three years she has created fairy tales dealing with the alchemical theme “the death of the king.”  This political and spiritual allegory was about the need for a transformation in the collective in this time of endless war.  Her Berlin exhibition on this theme received a full page in the Berlin Zeitung, and recently a spread in Fabrik Magazine and the Huffington Post.

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