A new exhibit at Baylor University’s Martin Museum of Art asks viewers to use their ears as well as their eyes.
“The Sound of Color: Art Inspired by Music” takes a portfolio of seven lithographs by Mexican artist Leonardo Nierman as a starting point to examine how the artist translated what he heard into music in visual form.
Nierman, 89, a trained violinist before embarking on an artistic career, is known for his explorations of music and sound through color and line on canvas and paper. His “Sound of Color” portfolio from 1976, a copy of which is in the permanent collection of the Martin Museum, contains a colored lithograph for each of the seven classical composers: Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel , Gustav Mahler and Sergei Rachmaninoff.
“He was one of the best at bringing music to life in art,” said education coordinator Elisa Crowder, who, along with graduate student Melissa Liesch, researched and curated the exhibit. from the Martin Museum. The exhibit proved a labor of love for Crowder, who joined the museum after retiring from a decades-long career as a public school music educator.
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The exhibition pairs each print with the audio of a work by this composer, with recordings made by ensembles and performers from the Baylor School of Music. Large wall charts by Krista Latendresse provide both additional text about composers, their periods, and Nierman’s work, as well as charts demonstrating such things as the size and complexity of the orchestra over time.
Nierman’s style shows cubist and surrealist influences and Crowder highlights how the artist suggested the varied styles of composers through the way images are repeated and how a common palette of blues, reds and oranges change tone. and emphasis.
Headphones and electronic tablets allow visitors to the gallery to taste the music of each composer. They can also create their own music with percussion instruments such as toned tubes, harps and kalimbas located throughout the exhibit. A video clip of a performance of Stravinsky’s ballet “Firebird Suite” also demonstrates how dance can provide a visual interpretation of music.
A side room adjoining one of the galleries provides a workspace with tables, chairs and art supplies for exhibition visitors to try their hand at creating art shaped by music.
A “Creation Station Saturday” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday will offer visitors activities that combine art, crafts and music, with a performance by members of the Baylor Jazz Ensemble at 11 a.m.
The Martin Museum also opened its second exhibition this week, “Paper Trail: Letterpress and Screen Printed Posters by Dirk Fowler.”
The exhibit features 25 posters by Fowler, an award-winning graphic designer from Texas Tech University’s faculty of art. The posters, many of which advertise concerts or musicians, represent a mixture of printing techniques, including screen printing, inkjet and letterpress.
Fowler’s direct and clear style often plays on familiar imagery and logos with a witty twist. They are mounted on unframed gallery walls, at Fowler’s request, to suggest the actual surroundings of many music posters, nailed to bedroom walls, hall walls, or telephone poles.
Fowler will speak about his work at a reception and talk at the Martin Museum at 5:30 p.m. on September 8.