By Claire Jeantheau and Bianca Martucci-Fink
When 2020 separated us all from each other and sent us into social distancing, music was a lifeline for many. Maybe you counted down to a favorite artist’s new release, made a playlist to de-stress, or shared out that bizarre result you got on your Spotify Unwrapped in December (“I played that how many times?”).
As Dickinson’s senior Studio Art majors worked on their culminating exhibition “Remnant” during their final year, several of them turned to music too. To take you inside their inspirations, we asked them which songs had similar themes to their work, or which helped them through the creative process.
Two of our artists picked songs to write about with a meaningful connection to their pieces—and then, Claire and Bianca, after experiencing their art and music, responded with songs of their own. Listen to the full playlist (below) of all the tracks suggested by Gracyn and Ruodan, along with Claire and Bianca’s additions. You can make your reservation to listen as you walk through the exhibition, or listen while you do your own creative projects this summer. Either way, this is meant to be a new dimension of artful experience!
“Remnant” is open for view at the Trout Gallery for Dickinson Students, Faculty, and Staff until September 11th, 2021.
Gracyn Bird: “A Pearl” by Mitski
Why she chose it: “I think this song deals with a lot of the same themes as my work. The lyrics talk about a complicated relationship, where the speaker is conflicted about her physical and emotional relationship with someone. She might want them emotionally but can’t handle their touch. And because of this, she’s very stuck in her head–a lot like the women in my paintings.”
How Claire responded: The beat of “A Pearl”–which is slow and steady, though the song picks up in intensity at the end—compelled me to pause and look deeply at Gracyn’s art. The longer I looked, the more connected I felt to each of the figures; the lyrics in the song seemed to be their stream-of-consciousness.
Claire’s music picks: The women in Gracyn’s pieces have a feminine, vulnerable quality to me—I felt like I was seeing hidden parts of their interior lives. To reflect this, I picked songs by either solo female artists (Angel Olsen, Weyes Blood) or woman-fronted bands (Varsity, Big Thief, Alvvays) to create the same connection of perspective I felt while listening to Mitski with her work. Gracyn’s art also has both soft pastel visuals and a turbulent emotional current. The songs I chose pair with that—they might have a washed-out and dreamy sound, but they feature wailing vocals or lyrics about personal uncertainty.
Ruodan Que: “John Cooper Clarke” by Working Men’s Club
Why she chose it: “This song, as many others, is immediately danceable and full of pulses, distortions, and shiver of excitement. My dancing, however, is very painful to look at. So I figure I might as well transfer some of that energy to a drawing surface, and these are the results.”
How Bianca responded: I loved Ruodan’s idea of incorporating dance into the visual arts. When we think about museums, dancing seems like the antithesis of what is allowed in a gallery-like space. You’re supposed to stay still, appear contemplative, slow-look. When I see Ruodan’s work and listen to the songs she selected at the same time, I’m filled with an unusual type of energy for the museum environment. For me, this is a feeling I think we should have more of when looking at art.
Bianca’s music picks: Looking to feel more of that energy in a museum, I picked songs that have an electrifying sound. I wanted to pair Ruodan’s thoughts with what I feel when I see her work. There’s something both empowering and soft about her images, so my music picks include songs from HOLYCHILD, Let, and Tame Impala. For me, these songs radiate a feeling of strength and movement in a techno and pop sound that are visually echoed in her work.
Listen to all of the songs on the playlist now!