Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

When Music, Color, and Canvas Meet Series: ART NOW. Part 9 of a Series

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

When Music, Color, and Canvas Meet Series: ART NOW. Part 9 of a Series

Article excerpt

`I LOVE formality!" exclaims artist Ellen Banks, gesturing with her hands as though she were describing the most wonderful thing in the world. She apologizes for the encroaching chaos that threatens the order of her studio. But I've seen much worse, like my own. She offers me a chair without things piled on it. I take it.

She goes on to explain that her work is based on a methodical response to musical notation; that she responds to the music as she sees it written down, not as she hears it played. Much in the same way that a musician might sit down and play, she interprets the score with organized systems of color and shape. You might think that the systems are important when it comes to understanding the work, but it's not so. Banks will be the first one to tell you that her methods are just to get her going, that we don't need them.

Banks grew up in Boston, more exposed to music than art, and has lived here all of her life. She teaches at the Museum School at the Museum of Fine Arts, and shows her work here, in New York, and abroad. When she was a teen the abstract geometric paintings of Modernist Piet Mondrian made a lasting impression on her. She doesn't know how it happened, but something about their pure ordered expression captured her. After pursuing Minimalist painting to a dead end, she was reunited with her love of music by translating scores mathematically into code and onto the canvas.

Ellen Banks explains that it is the order of formalism that appeals to her. Structure, she says, gives her freedom. Two things are going on here. The ordered nature of her systems provides her with a clear vision, and a peace that comes with the acceptance and service of that vision. The music is the other thing. It is a source, an inspiration; but also a channel, and finally a vast resource. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.