CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Inviting museumgoers to use their ears as much as their eyes is quickly gaining traction in the art community. Much like using color on a physical canvas, sound artists use the noises that exist around us to fill space and grab the attention of the listener in a way no different than a sculpture, painting or mosaic.
Students at Austin Peay State University, as well as the community at large, will have an opportunity to explore this branch of contemporary art when the APSU Department of Art presents “SOUND”, an exhibition of sound art held at the APSU Trahern Gallery from Jan. 20-Feb. 6.
Curated by APSU Department of Art chair Barry Jones and gallery director Michael Dickins, the exhibit features 17 artists from around the country who use sound as the main or only element in their work. In addition to the art in the Trahern Gallery, there will be several pieces located throughout the Trahern Building, as well as the UC Bowl in front of the APSU Woodward Library.
Artists from around the state, as well as artists from around the country were invited to submit work for the exhibit, including Aaron Hutchinson, Brian Harnetty, Curt Cloninger, Greg Pond, Jesse Thompson, Jason Sloan, Josh Gumiela, Kris Neely, Peter Kay, Matt Roberts, McLean Fahnestock, Morgan Higby-Flowers, Nathan Wolek, Phillip Andrew Lewis, Steve Roden and Will Owen.
“This show is interesting because it’s a sound show in Trahern Galley, but there will be no sound (in the gallery),” Dickins said. “All of the pieces will be listened to with headphones. A couple of the pieces are a minute long, and some are up to 30 minutes. It is a much different experience than going into a museum and giving a piece of art a 10-20 second look.”
Jones said that the artists have each approached their works in a unique way and was quick to draw a distinction between traditional music and the “sound art” which will be on display at the gallery.
“This is not a music exhibit at all, even though sound is the primary medium,” Jones said. “The art is not rhythmic and it does not follow the conventions of music. That was actually a major challenge for Michael and me as we worked on our curator statement because how do you explain to people the difference between sound art and music?”
Dickins said that sound artists are similar to visual artists, despite their work appealing to different senses.
“(Sound artists) work with the (fundamental aspects of) sound itself with things like reverberations, tone and pitch,” Dickins said. “Think about a (visual artist) with a paint brush — why do they choose to use the color red? How do they apply it to the canvas? With sound artists, you are asking why they use this note, how they choose to bend that note and manipulate it to create a sound painting. That is how they create a piece of art.”
As the chair of the APSU Department of Art, Jones said that one of his main goals — as well as that of the Trahern Gallery itself — is to expose students to new forms of art. Exhibits like “SOUND” serve that goal as they educate and hopefully inspire the next generation of artists.
“One of the many missions of the Trahern Gallery is that is a teaching tool,” Jones said. “Michael and I have both had interest in using sound in our studio art practice, but it’s not something we really teach here at APSU, so bringing all of these artists to campus is a way to introduce a new medium to our students.”
To celebrate the exhibit, an opening reception will take place January 20 from 5 -7 p.m. with several artists in attendance. “SOUND” will be open to all gallery goers from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday from Jan. 20-Feb. 6.
For more information, contact the APSU Department of Art at 931-221-7333.
- Colin Harris, APSU communication specialist