Elizabeth Hiatt


Shaping Musical Phrases

On Display

May 1, 2004 – May 31, 2004


Hallway Gallery, level 2

As a double major in art and music, I have often observed the fascinating correlation between visual and musical forms of expression.  As I experimented with different ways to convey music visually, I found a great number and range of examples in artists and musicians throughout history, from the calligraphic lines of Gregorian Chant notation to the abstract designs of contemporary Minimalism.  Another literal example of this connection lies in the conductor of an orchestra, who translates the nuances of music into a gestural language that the other musicians interpret and realize musically.  Paintings from the prehistoric caves of Lascaux to twentieth century Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm record similar gestural movements, only this time, the orchestra is the palette, and the baton, the brush.  What is left for us is more than a photographic, objective image, but something that lies more at the heart of the conductor’s role in producing profound expressions of mood and motion.  Both artist and conductor use motion to convey emotion.  The artwork goes beyond the literal portrayal of a particular subject, to a deeper and more intuitive type of depiction.  Indeed, we find many paintings such as Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie-Woogie and Whistler’s portrait Symphony in Gray and Pink acting not merely as an image, but as a representation of music, actual or imagined.

This series of paintings explore the relationship of art and music by comparing concepts both mediums have in common.  I am particularly interested in the efforts of both art and music to convey mood, harmony, and direction.  They are not literal translations of music, but rather visual impressions of linear and atmospheric qualities I enjoy in certain pieces of music.  I seek to express some of the profound and stirring beauty of music, and reveal similarities in the unique capacity both art forms share to convey abstract ideas and emotions.  Whereas an artist might understandably defend the boundaries of his medium against those who would overlook its meaning and significance, I feel the arts must be compared for their similarities as well as distinguished by their differences.

I hope that the synthesis of art and music can be valued as an exciting and fruitful academic and creative exploration, as well as appreciated for the significant and unique insights the combined fields make to humanity and to each art form.