Daniel E. Kelm and Timothy C. Ely
Kelm: American, 1951–; Ely: American, 1949–

Acrylic and ink on paper, acrylic polymer medium mixed with wood chips, etched copper sheet, brass screws, painted cloth and poplar wood, magnets, brass rod and tubing, thread, and wire edge binding. Courtesy of Steve Clay, Granary Books. Video by Kevin Derose and Jeff Derose, One Match Films.

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Investigations: The Four Elements

A shared interest in alchemy unites Kelm and fellow artist Timothy C. Ely. Since meeting at an exhibition featuring both their work at the Thomas J. Watson Library at New York ’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1986, Kelm and Ely have collaborated on a number of unique books, including four on the subject of the elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.

Water consists of five four-panel accordion books that can be assembled into three of the five Platonic solids (tetrahedron, octahedron, and icosahedron). The icosahedron, a polygon with twenty identically shaped faces, is the geometric form Plato associated with the element of water. Ely’s cryptic writing and proto-landmass shapes make the assembled object look like what Kelm describes as “a globe for an alien world.”

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