Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Edison State–1: A garden of sound

4.25" x 5.5"
ink on paper, 2013
Maria van Boekel is a Learning Resources Assistant at the library of Edison State College, Charlotte Campus, and is responsible for monthly revolving displays at the entrance of that library. The topic of January's display was music. Beside an awesome display of books about music, she invited visitors to the library to write down their favorite song onto a whiteboard. While more and more people added songs to the list, she and I made illustrations to go with each one. These are simple small portrait drawings executed with pens and markers on paper. I was asked to execute the drawings in blue and yellow, the colors of Edison State. About 30 portraits are accumulated and it is still growing. The display has received enthusiastic responses and will be extended well into February. The respondents are students, library employees, and everyone else who would walk into that library and is inclined to respond. As you have gotten to know me by know; I'm no stranger to such projects. What I always resisted, until now, was to draw those musicians that were someone's favorite but not mine. It always felt like a concession, a betrayal of my Top 100 series, to exploit the concept. But now I'm excited about this—I'm making the drawings of mostly mostly popular musicians without any discrimination and I find myself able to treat those I really don't care for with the same respect as for those who I regard highly. If it weren't for my own list entry (John Coltrane – My Favorite Things) there wouldn't have been any musician that in the last 20 years made the Top 100 list, and save for Coltrane and Led Zeppelin, not a single musical act I had drawn before. So here I am, making portraits of R Kelly, The Little River Band, Bruno Mars, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, and you name it, with a joy of a schoolboy having been told for the first time in his life he had talent.

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