Performance Art , Rhode Island College December 2013

Performance Art , Rhode Island College December 2013

I was invited to be a guest Visual Arts performer alongside Judith Stillman (pianist and head of the Rhode Island College Music Dept) and Mike Reynolds, cellist, from BU. We did 2 performances at Sapinsley Hall, RIC, Providence.
Judith and a colleague from Rhode Island School of art and Design conceived of the theme: Music and Art; how does Music inspire a visual artist?
Two artists sketched on ipads during the performance. A textile designer created a gown for the pianist , based on a visual letter letter Beethoven had written. Cameramen projected the images of us working onto large screens, allowing varied viewing angles during the works.

My charge, as the one visual artist on stage, was to create a 30 x 40 canvas at both the 1 pm and 7:30 pm concerts, inspired by their performance of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 3 in G Minor (2 movements) and Sonata No 3 in A Major (see the two canvases below)
Both sonatas were composed at the time that Beethoven was struggling with his increasing deafness and the music reflected many emotions.

My personal challenge was to:

  • Present myself with a new way and source of creating a painting, responding to the music while still being mindful of composition and visual integrity.
  • To complete a full canvas reflecting both Sonatas in the 50 minutes of their performance.
  • To use large oil sticks for the pieces over a prepared base canvas (i chose difference color palettes for each canvas).
  • To maintain interest for the audience while I worked.
  • The college has a video which we may have access to at some point .

I learned a lot from this experience:

  • I created entirely to music and found that to be enjoyable.
  • I had no visual images to base the work on and I didn’t need any visual stimuli at all.
  • I saw that painting in the moment produced a kinetic art and evidence of motion, texture and energy that are different from my other work.
  • I reminded myself how much I love the “push” and textural feeling of oil pastels.
  • I re-learned, from the audience questions/comments, that abstract art really is a “Rorshach test” for all. Many people saw personal image references in the works.
  • I was happy to see that I could take one inspirational source and interpret it very differently for each rendition. That is very helpful in studying varied subjects as it assists one in taking a fresh look at things and in fully studying themes.
  • I learned a lot about the musical structure of the pieces while learning them in advance of the performance day. I miss musical study since I am immersed in my painting so I valued this time.
  • A follow up thought may be to offer people “paintings painted to their favorite composer/composition” for art sales.
  • I will be putting some images/video clip and this description on my website soon.

It was a very interesting experience and one which I was able to do only because I accepted the risk of doing a “gig” unlike any I have done before. Plus I got to hear the pieces performed by two terrific performers.