Development


My development in the visual arts has been greatly influenced by my experience as a musician and occasional poet. With the exception of my first work, which was a mandala and seemingly came from nowhere, my early work was derived entirely from music and poetry.

As a pianist who often accompanied vocalists, I was fascinated by the translation of speech to music and dabbled in a bit of musical composition myself, often setting poems to music. Much later while in design school, I took one of my poems that I had set to music and translated it into a visual experience. The source for my large stripe composition dominated by pink, green and black I of course never divulged.

This work was an experiment in which the basic elements of music were assigned calculated values. Timbre became the medium, pitch a color, rhythm and duration became a measured dimension, and the resulting image a surprise. It was impossible not to notice that the resulting image was better than most stripe compositions, exhibiting a sense of complex visual fluency.

Although I ultimately threw out this first experiment, I still have photographs of several works based on similar methods. (See Tabula Rasa and the Camarillo Project.)

Following the Camarillo project, I was consumed by the Ojai project, but found a little free time near its completion to resume working on collage. I cut up and combined completed work of contrasting mediums (oil and watercolor, for example) in order to achieve a feeling of harmonious dissonance. I called this method “parallelism” at the time because I mentally pictured the work of each medium maintaining a sense of separate identity even though when joined an additional transcendent identity emerged. I think this method of visual composition stemmed from what I always imagined I would do had I become a composer.

As a piano major in college, one incident stands out as particularly meaningful. Piano majors were assigned practice rooms furnished with a grand piano. These rooms were lined up in a long hallways. The rooms were not completely soundproof, and you could always hear yourself against the piano next door. Walking down the hallways yielded another unique cacophony of sound. One day several students noticed that the sounds emanating from two adjacent practice rooms were creating an especially vibrant new sound when heard together. The doors of these two rooms were opened, and one piano was pulled out into the hall. All of the other students were asked to stop practicing and come listen to the discovery. It was great how two completely different pieces of music accidentally complimented each other. The unexpected harmony was especially sweet because of the greater dissonance - sort of like Charles Ives.

Later in life, I experienced the joy of a choral piece from an FM radio station coming in equally loud as a particularly fortuitous rock station. It was disappointing when they both faded out and I knew that was the end.

For awhile I had a habit of listening to someone sing something and think that they were good, but that they could be really good if another singer singing something entirely different could be dubbed over their voice and I could hear them both at the same time. This was the kind of musical composition I wanted to do.

Layered, multidisciplinary experiences appeal to me. One experience that lingers in my mind is leaving a Japanese restaurant high on a fine dining experience of excessive wasabi with especially good sushi and walking in brisk weather in darkening light through an outdoor shopping mall under construction. The sound of the jack hammer was fabulous against the backdrop of the person somewhere out there playing a wooden flute.

-- Eve Mero