Sound and Sight: A Duet
A dynamic and interactive dialog between art and music.
Inspired by an ongoing partnership with the noted Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in their cutting-edge Music Therapy program, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights gallery presents Sound and Sight: A Duet, an exhibition in collaboration with nAscent Art New York and Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
Art and music share the ability to communicate across boundaries. As dynamic creative languages, they have the capacity to express emotion, forge connections, evoke memories, and capture the energy or essence of a time or place.
“Sound and Sight: A Duet” brings creative conversations to life between eight artworks and eight original musical compositions by visual artists and musicians in the New York City area. In an exchange between creative minds, nAscent’s curatorial team paired four artworks with four existing musical pieces curated by the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Concurrently, the BKCM invited four of its musicians to each compose a new, original piece in response to four additional, existing visual works of art.
The resulting “duets” play with the connection between sound and art, both borrowing from and feeding the other. A jaunty, modern jazz trio captures the kinetic energy of figures against a New York City backdrop, while the graceful flow of abstract brushstrokes is mirrored through the sweet but mournful tones of harp, violin, and bass clarinet.
Many of the prominent visual artists and musicians featured in the exhibition are multi-hyphenates themselves; poets, singers, writers, therapists, and even calligraphers. Their work, drawing on and emulating colors, sound, form, movement, and rhythm across art forms, speaks to the ability of the human spirit to converse within any medium.
Sound and Sight: A Duet is made up of a series of movements, created by the curatorial response of visual art to composed musical pieces, and the improvised response of music to visual artwork. Witness and listen to this dynamic musical and artistic exchange. Consider the emotive power of creative mediums to transcend history, structure, preconceived notions … and maybe even their very nature.
‘Marivi’ from SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum)
Marta Sanchez’s records “Partenika” and “El Rayo de Luz” were selected by The New York Times as one of the “10 Best Albums of 2015” and “Best Jazz of 2019,” respectively. Her albums have been praised at Fresh Air, DownBeat,WBGO, among many other outlets. She has toured the U.S., Europe, South America, and Central America, performing at main prestigious venues and festivals. In 2017 and 2021 she was granted a residency at MacDowell.
Shayna Dunkelman is a musician, percussionist, and composer known for her versatile techniques and use of electronics to access a sonic palette not found in acoustic percussion. She performs solo, as well as with renowned artists such as Emily Wells, Du Yun, Balún, Attacca Quartet, Ali Sethi, and her percussion duo NOMON with her sister Nava Dunkelman. She was born and raised in Tokyo to an American father and Indonesian mother, who is also a musician and composer.
The Cossack Who Smelt Of Vodka from Bop Kabbalah
Ty Citerman is a guitarist and composer who works across the spectrum of jazz, rock, and contemporary classical. His Bop Kabbalah project explores composition, improvisation, and Jewish musical traditions, and JazzTimes called their debut “one of the year’s most arresting recordings.” He is a founding member of the quartet Gutbucket, for which he has created “kinetic punk-jazz opuses” (Guitar Player). Citerman has performed at Carnegie Hall, Paris Jazz Festival, and the Bang on a Can Marathon, among many others.
Milad Yousufi is a pianist, composer, conductor, poet, singer, painter, and calligrapher. Born in Afghanistan during the civil war, when music was banned, he eventually sought asylum in the U.S. He received a scholarship to the Mannes School of Music and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in composition at Brooklyn College. Yousufi has composed for the New York Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, the Refugee Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, and many others. He is working on publishing 12 volumes of Afghan Folk Music.
Sameer Gupta is known as one of the few percussionists simultaneously representing the traditions of American Jazz on drumset, and Indian classical music on tabla. Sameer completed his jazz studies learning from his peers on the bandstands in San Francisco and Oakland to Harlem and Brooklyn. His own interests and love of tabla helped guide Sameer to become a co-founder of the nonprofit collective Brooklyn Raga Massive. Today he performs and records with a wide array of creative and artistic luminaries.
Saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer Mike McGinnis is a curious and open-minded musical explorer unbound by stylistic barriers. He has released six critically acclaimed albums during his 25 years on the NYC jazz scene. As musical director of the Davalois Fearon Dance Company, he has performed his compositions at the Joyce Theater, New Victory Theater, City Center, Metropolitan Museum, Harlem Stage, Rubin Museum, and Bronx Museum. The DownBeat Magazine International Critics Poll named him a Clarinet “Rising Star” for five years.
The Wire places Sara Schoenbeck in the “tiny club of bassoon pioneers” working today, and The New York Times called her “riveting, mixing textural experiments with a big, confident sound.” Sara focuses on the intersections between texture, melody and the ever-expanding notion of the bassoon’s capabilities. She has been a member of Anthony Braxton’s 12+1(tet), the Nels Cline Lovers Orchestra, and other groups, performed at international venues and festivals, and played on several recordings and soundtracks, including her recent album.
As composer and multi-instrumentalist (known mostly as saxophonist, she grew up playing violin), Angela Morris has performed throughout North America and Europe everywhere from basements to arenas. Her recording Both Are True (Greenleaf Music) by Webber/Morris Big Band was named a 2020 top 10 jazz record by The New York Times. Morris has organized the concert series Brackish – music & art since 2016.
Known as a “go-to” pianist by many musicians, Lafayette Harris Jr. currently performs and records with legendary saxophonist Houston Person. His newest and 9th record, You Can’t Lose With The Blues, was No. 1 for 2 weeks on the Jazzweek Jazz Chart starting in February 2020, and stayed in the top 10 for 14 weeks. It ended 2020 as being the 3rd most played jazz recording of the year.
Agustin Grasso is an Argentinean drummer residing in Brooklyn. He began playing drums at the age of 15 and moved to the U.S. in 2013 where he studied with some of the living masters of the music called jazz. Since then he’s been part of the vibrant NYC music scene. He has performed at Lincoln Center, Airtrain Jazz Festival, Harlem Arts Festival, Cellar Dog, Ornithology Jazz Club and many other music venues.
Lucia Stavros is a harpist, singer/songwriter, and producer whose projects explore the spiritual and emotional connections developed in and through music. The Deli Magazine said her “show-stealing, often mysterious lyricism, creates an intergenerational atmosphere chamber pop that feels as modern as it does baroque.” She is touring her solo project, Loosh, and producing an album, Loosh Mixtape. She records and performs with experimental chamber group Ghost Ensemble and classical ensemble The New York Repertory Orchestra.
Mara Mayer is a clarinetist and bass clarinetist whose performances range from traditional Balinese Gamelan to performance art. Recent projects include Jeff Tobias’ Recurring Dream Band, GABI, and many others. She’s been the clarinetist of the new music ensemble at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and Wildshore New Music Festival. She founded the Home Audio performance series funded by the Brooklyn Arts Council and holds degrees in Music Performance (Eastman School of Music) and Brain and Cognitive Science (University of Rochester).
Johnna Wu is a violinist and improviser active in North America, Europe, and Asia. She is the founder and artistic director of the electro-acoustic chamber ensemble PinkNoise. Johnna has a BA in Biology and Music History and Theory from Columbia University, a Masters of Music from the Juilliard School, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Berlin. A doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center, she is on faculty at CUNY-College of Staten Island and the Lucerne Festival Academy.
Based in New York City, Colombian painter and sculptor Eduardo Terranova uses a range of materials and techniques, including plaster and gold, to explore themes of renewal, value, globalization, and economic exchange in his work. Particularly interested and inspired by items that have lost their purpose and identity, Terranova’s practice investigates memory and the journey of the materials with which he works.
Deeply influenced by famed Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s explorations into the unconscious mind, painter Kayo Shido takes references from memories stored in subconscious and natural phenomena and portrays them in abstract form. She has expanded her paintings into murals, 3D objects, and installations. Born in Japan, Shido studied at Saga Art College in Kyoto, and later at the New York Studio School, and the School of Visual Arts. She works and lives in New York.
Galician photographer Xan Padrón received his first camera from the photojournalist Enrique Reza, who fostered his passion for photography of the everyday, just as Xan’s father, the journalist Luís Padrón, instilled in him the patience to listen and observe stories. With his history as a traveling musician, Xan Padrón documented life on the road. He splits his time between Galicia and New York City.
Lauren Matsumoto’s hybrid form of painting and collage creates an innovative dialogue between the two approaches. Her work employs a light, sophisticated color palette informed by her Scandinavian and Northern European roots. With an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York and BA in Painting from Yale University, Matsumoto has cultivated an international collector base. She lives in the lower Hudson Valley region of New York with her husband and son.
Inspired by poetry, fiction and most recently mythology, visual artist and Pratt Institute professor Alice Zinnes’s work explores emotional tension through abstract landscape narratives. Zinnes’s work also indirectly relates to environmentalism, reflecting her voice in the fight against fracking and for a more sustainable world. In addition to the many private and public collections that hold Zinnes’s work, and seven solo shows in New York City, Zinnes has received numerous awards and fellowships.
Franco-American artist Natale Adgnot uses abstract drawing and sculpture to explore cognitive bias and logical fallacy. Best known for wall sculptures made of painted thermoplastic and birch panels, she challenges the viewer to consider her work from multiple perspectives. Adgnot earned a BFA in graphic design in Texas and studied fashion in Paris – experiences which inform her work. She lives and works in New Paltz and Brooklyn.
Through experimentation with Sumi-ink and handmade paper, artist Sky Pape’s work responds to nature as a refuge and resource. Drawing from ancient cultural traditions of China and Japan, her work becomes an unspoken collaboration with distant masters, entwined with the fragile endurance of centuries-old practices. The MoMA, the Guggenheim Museum, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and other international institutions hold Pape’s work in their collections. Born in Canada, she lives and works in northern Manhattan.
New York City-raised artist Jessica Maffia works across a variety of media to celebrate the familiar and honor the city in its natural state. Her repetitive, meditative processes invite the viewer to look more closely. Maffia’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, and she created the artwork for popular music artist Childish Gambino’s two singles “Summertime Magic” and “Feels Like Summer.” Maffia has also received numerous fellowships and grants for her work.
Music holds the power to heal and connect. Partnering with the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights is offering a cutting-edge music therapy program for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as a program for seniors in Independent and Assisted Living.
Research suggests that music can help improve the recovery of motor and cognitive function in stroke patients, reduce symptoms of depression in individuals with dementia, and even ease pain and promote faster healing in people who have undergone surgery. It is especially beneficial for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, as it can help them recall memories, improve communication, and provide a sense of calm. Our ability to engage with music is one of the last to be impacted by either dementia or Alzheimer’s.
This unique collaboration with the noted Brooklyn Conservatory of Music engages and explores the communicative and emotional healing aspects of music, using popular music and other musical styles that appeal to residents to inspire engagement and encourage deeper connections. With plenty of beautiful open spaces and a variety of musical instruments and technology, residents can explore their own musicality. The program also helps them to recall memories in a safe, therapeutic space. Like scent, music has the power to transport us to another time and place. With the use of personally meaningful music, it’s possible to access memories that may have been locked away. Music therapy is yet another way to access the healing power of music.
The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music (BKCM) invited a selection of distinguished, diverse musicians from its breadth of programs to share or develop original music in dialogue with nAscent artwork. Virtuosos from jazz improvisation to classical harp and everything in between united to pair unique sounds with the colors, shapes, and textures before them. The results are eight distinct creative conversations between music and visual art.
Four pieces were previously composed original works by the musicians that show the breadth of musical styles that can inspire art and were offered up to nAscent to be paired with works they felt spoke to the music.
BKCM created four improvisational pieces to artwork designated by nAscent artists. These works show the understanding of improvisational work in different forms. The new improvised pieces created by the small ensembles – including a group of Watermark memory care residents led by a music therapist – collaboratively allowed the art to guide and inspire their musical choices. The presence and openness of the improvising musicians can be heard and felt across these works.
Creative improvisation is immediate musical composition that combines performance with communication of emotions and instrumental technique as well as a spontaneous response to other musicians. In this project, the improvisers used the visual input of an art piece as their musical score. The graphic information from each painting evoked its own feeling and texture which was then translated by each group into sound. At times lines, color and form were translated literally into sound and at others, the total expression of a work was used as a jumping-off point for musical composition and inspiration.
These musical pieces improvised for this exhibition highlight the capacity of cross-genre, multi-disciplinary collaboration to create singularly remarkable works.
An art consultancy in its 15th year, nAscent Art New York has long supported clients, artists, and the arts. Starting even before fully funding and organizing a not-for-profit conference focused on artist’s issues in 2010, nAscent has consistently advocated to advance the interests of artists. nAscent has also produced numerous public art exhibitions, including THE(UN)FAIR in 2014, which earned international recognition for excellence in global newspapers like Le Monde. At the same time, bringing together brand, culture, and space design into thoughtful artwork solutions, nAscent has partnered with design teams on award-winning, signature properties lauded the world over. Clients have included Thompson Hotels, Penguin Books, Toyota, and Marriott.
In “Sound and Sight: A Duet,” nAscent’s curatorial team paired four artworks with four existing musical pieces curated by the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. In creating these “duets,” nAscent reflected on how the color, composition, forms, and energy within each artwork complement and speak to the tone, movement, rhythm, and mood of its accompanying musical composition. Each pair may evoke a narrative, a dialogue, a sense of place, an artistic journey, or simply a feeling, an emotion. The resulting connections between musical works and artworks, simultaneously drawing from and feeding the other, are testament to the ability of humanity to converse within and across artistic mediums.