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The Great Power, Versatility and Connectivity of Art

Posted on October 18, 2020 at 1:30 PM by Lilah Anderson

When I first started thinking about programs for the Who Am I? exhibition back in the spring, I knew that I wanted to create experiences that could express that great range of reactions and conversations that art can generate. When the exhibition’s curator, Adrienne Gennett, described the exhibition and the many voices that would contribute interpretive texts, I thought about the mediums that can be used to form an interpretation. Of course, contributors would write their thoughts, some using other written forms such as monologue, to express their reactions and interactions with the selected objects. But reactions to art can also take the form of visual art or other performing art forms like music, theater or dance. 

Some of the works of art on exhibition demonstrate this connectivity. They are in conversation with each other and can trace relationships and lineages, such as the placement of Harvey Littleton’s 180 Degree Rotation, Red across from Dale Chihuly’s Seaforms; Littleton being considered by many the father of studio glass and the teacher of Chihuly. Oil Painting #2 from the Memory Series by Bill Barrett takes inspiration from music and later had a musical work composed about it and is normally installed in Music Hall. The possibilities reach far beyond the written form and I wanted our visitors to experience this in the space. So I reached out to Dr. Jonathan Govias, Conductor of the ISU Symphony Orchestra and Director of Orchestral Activities, and asked if he would be up for a collaboration. 

After coming to tour the exhibition and hearing about the curatorial intention, Dr. Govias told me he had just the piece of music that could respond to the ideas of the exhibition and illustrate the confluence of artistic ideas and expression. J.S. Bach’s Musical Offering, BWV 1079 - No. 2 Ricercar à 6 as arranged by Anton Webern not only is an example of art responding to art, but it’s very musical construction is responsorial. The work is based on a simple theme that was given to J.S. Bach by Frederick the Great to which Bach then created a six part fugue on the theme. Nearly two hundred years later in 1935, Anton Webern arranged the work for orchestra. The theme is separated between the voices of the orchestra and a single instrument rarely finishes a musical line, rather the theme moves from player to player, creating an acoustically fascinating experience. The multiplicity of voices in the music and the lineage of artists that created the work resonate with the concepts of the exhibition and with the performance a musical offering is given to the exhibition and the viewers. 

University Museums is pleased to partner with the ISU Department of Music to offer two performances by the ISU Chamber Orchestra on Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24, both starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Christian Petersen Art Museum. The evening will begin with remarks from Dr. Govias and myself, followed by the performance, closing remarks by the exhibition curator and Associate Curator of Collections and Education Adrienne Gennett, and will conclude with time to view the exhibition.

I am truly excited for the two performances, and livestream we will offer of this program and I believe it will fulfill my initial goal of creating an experience that impresses the great power, versatility and connectivity of art. I hope you can join us for this artful offering.

Art In Response to Art: Chamber Music Performances
Both performances are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required as seating is limited.  Registration spots are first come, first served; however there will be a waiting list in case there is a cancellation. Masks will also be required by all attendees in accordance with the current ISU guidelines.

REGISTER for the Friday, October 23 at 6:30 p.m. performance

REGISTER for the Saturday, October 24 at 6:30 p.m. performance

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