Thursday, June 23, 2016

Accidental Inspiration

Mother, Mother Are You There? 7 x 5", mixed media 
I've been thinking about my recent affinity for combining musical and visual elements in creating. While on a walk, I struck upon the possible roots of  this inspiration. When I was about ten years old, my mother returned to college so that she could be certified to teach elementary school. Part of the curriculum included a cultural arts class that required attending performances (and I am just now flashing to students requesting programs to prove that they have attending concerts, etc.) For some reason, I was the kid who accompanied my mother. Though the way that I came to attend these performances was serendipitous, the experiences are burnished into my inner being. I have remembered and referenced the music and the images throughout my life. Mind you, I didn't immediately retain such information as the name of the opera or ballet, but rather images and fragments of music. In one of the performances, a young woman sings, "Mother, Mother, are you there?" She is a figure bathed in a cool blue light surrounded by darkness. I retained this single line for several decades before learning from my church's music director and font of knowledge, that it is from Gian-Carlo Menotti's The Medium. I purchase a recording and listening now, decades later, I can see why I was haunted by the music. My memory of that line is fairly accurate, no doubt because of this haunting quality and the recurring call.

Fire Forest, 9 x 12", mixed media
A second vivid experience involves another dark scene with a bright accent (do you suppose this is why I wound up with an Art History degree--I like being in darkened rooms with illuminated images?) The stage is almost completely black and there is a flaming red figure flitting across, left to right. You probably know that I was at a performance of The Firebird, but it was some time later, probably at another performance that I recognized what I saw as a child.

I imagine we also went to art exhibits and attended concerts to fulfill the requirements of my mother's course, but it is the events where strong visuals and haunting music were united that my imagination and memory become particularly engaged.  I love the richness and the feeling of being fully immersed in the experience. There is a Part II to this story and I'll save that for another day. 

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