Shows like “Iron Chef” and “Chopped” popularized and promoted the idea of “secret ingredients,” forcing chefs to adapt to work with new substances and create unique dishes. This secret ingredient craze is now moving into the art world with the newest show at the Pleiades Gallery.

The Pleiades Gallery is a non-profit arts organization named after the cluster of stars on the Durham city flag and the constellation Taurus the Bull. The curators focus on building an arts community with the foundation of social justice and artistic innovation.

"The Secret Ingredient" exhibit is a two-month show in which each artist tackles the challenge of working with a particular “ingredient,” an artistic tool or medium. The artists are given six months of independent work time to create a piece for the exhibit. The gallery visitors then have the opportunity to walk around the gallery and try to guess the mystery ingredient used within each piece. 

Some of the artists exhibiting pieces in this show include:

Jenny Blazing

As a painter, mixed media and installation artist, Jenny Blazing is one of the creators at Pleiades Gallery with a background in environmental design and economics. Her art focuses on the world and our obligation to protect it.

Blazing created her own piece, an acrylic and collage diptych titled "Journey," with the mystery substance. 

“It is a pleasure to see how each of the artists interprets this challenge in their own media including sculpture, photography, ceramics, fused glass and paint," Blazing said. "My piece uses subtle touches of the secret ingredient that reveal themselves upon close inspection."

She is currently working on two ongoing series, "Building Worlds" and "Changing Worlds Now," that hope to elicit reflection on the human activity on the Earth and the need for environemtanl action.

Dawn Hummer

Dawn Hummer, a textile artist, was also drawn to the Pleiades Gallery for its commitment to artistic solidarity and social justice. 

“Pleiades has an ongoing community tradition and spirit of challenge for each artist to create and push a little further and each patron to look a little more closely,” she said.

Using sustainable fibers and Saori weaving methods, Hummer adds a unique twist to this secret ingredient. 

“My pieces of woven art incorporate [the secret ingredient] into the woven web of fiber in an improvisational format to render a piece of wall art,” she said.

Teddy Devereux

Inspired by the structures in nature and scientific themes, retired scientist and fused glass artist Teddy Devereux creates vivid glass pieces.

Her scientific background further inspired her take on the secret ingredient for her a wall piece titled “Chemistry.”

“The colors of glass are determined by the minerals added to the glass recipes," Devereux said. "Glasses with [the secret ingredient] will react at fusing temperatures with glasses that have other reactive ingredients such as sulfur to form certain compounds in the glass that change color, such as the brown line where the two colored glasses meet."

Yuko Nogami Taylor

Born in Japan and inspired by both historical Japanese art pieces and modern western art, Yuko Nogami Taylor creates pieces through a blend of these methods.

To create the secret ingredient piece, Taylor used the historical Japanese nihonga method mixed with verdigris. 

“My secret ingredients are hidden between the gold foil that I applied on the traditional hand skimmed Japanese paper wrapped onto a birch panel,” she said. 

Doug Tabb

Doug Tabb is a ceramics artist who uses reclaimed materials to create sculptures.

After moving from Chicago, Tabb sought ways to get involved with Durham’s artists and establish his distinctive methods within this city. He found Pleiades, which offers him an opportunity to be involved with the local art community and bring his own style to a larger local audience. 

“[The secret ingredient] gives me the opportunity to come at sculpture from two different directions," he said "It is bright and easily workable as a physical material or color, but I can also sneak it into ceramic work, an ingredient in glaze that can produce bright, metallic colors when raku fired."

The Pleaides' "Secret Ingredient" Exhibit will be exhibited until March 31. A closing reception will be held March 15 at 6 p.m. at the gallery.