The alchemy studio

| 06 Mar 2012 | 03:48

    “For a full-grown man to be carving these things,” Daniel Mack reflects. “I don’t quite understand. But I don’t have to.”

    Mack, a Warwick artist, writer and philosopher, was trying to fulfill his “big boy” duties of procuring unique types of wood for architectural projects like staircases and pillars in 2004. He was in Newburgh, scouring the western shore of the Hudson for quality driftwood. All he was finding was little bits of worthless bark, and it was messing with his zen.

    So he took a deep breath and told himself, if you can’t be with the one you love…

    Now, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of hand-height figurines populating the shelves of his studio, all carved from bits of drift bark that are valueless as lumber. Mack calls them “anima” – a Jungian term describing female or late-life energy. Some are voluptuous in personalized wooden frames; some congregate on a stump, leaning in or standing aloof; some are bejeweled and some painted; one wears a crown of a golden twig, another of a dead honeybee.

    “The mites are going to eat it,” says Mack, of the bee. “That’s the fragility. People are so interested in avoiding the decay of living. This almost celebrates it.”