Three area musicians explain their new visual art | Music Feature | Indy Week
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Three area musicians explain their new visual art 

Sounds and shapes

Now in its third year, Minus Sound Research collects visual art by seven North Carolina-based musicians at Wootini this weekend: Maria Albani (Schooner), Laura Ballance (Superchunk), Anna Bullard (Pox World Empire), Catherine Edgerton (Midtown Dickens), John Harrison (North Elementary), Reid Johnson (Schooner) and Nathan Oliver White (Nathan Oliver).

Co-founders Harrison and Albani conceived of Minus Sound Research while touring through the South with their rock bands four years ago. They envisioned it as a celebration of creativity with a DIY aesthetic, and as a way to showcase different outlets of expression for a single artist.

Harrison says the core of the creative process is the same whether he's creating music or painting: "Being in the moment, stopping time, having the world fall away," he explains. "But I feel more confident in the music process, often creating much of what I want to do in my head before picking up an instrument. Painting is a bit different: I often don't know what I'm doing even as I'm doing it."

The Independent got a sneak peek at some of the works that will be shown at Wootini starting Friday, Oct. 10, and spoke to their artists. Minus Sound Research III opens at 7 p.m. A free compilation of music by the participants will be available at the opening, and all of the original works will be on sale.

click to enlarge "The Aliphants" by Maria Albani
  • "The Aliphants" by Maria Albani

MARIA ALBANI [Presents "The Aliphants"; plays in Schooner and Organos]

"These are called 'Aliphants' because they're sort of elephants, and I incorporated my name into that. I'm not very good at depicting things exactly as they are: I can't look at a tree and draw it how I see it. With animals I feel more open to turn them into more imaginative creatures. I didn't know I was making elephants at first. I always start with the eyes, which dictate what kind of creature it's going to be. The rings under these eyes reminded me of trunks. After the eyes I painted the masks around them, and kept going until they turned into elephants. Really, these paintings are about my relationship with my mom. That's my family, just me and her."

click to enlarge "American South" by Reid Johnson
  • "American South" by Reid Johnson

REID JOHNSON [Presents "American South"; has been leading the indie rock band Schooner since 2003]

"I work at the Center for the Study of the American South. One day I was sitting on the porch with my crayons and started drawing this tree across the street. I was trying to get back to feeling free while doing art, which I was having a hard time with—blank canvas syndrome. The crayons were about getting back to square one. You have to have a lot of patience drawing the lines. You can scrape the wax off if you mess up, but it's hard to draw anything over that. ... That tree gave me a chance to connect back to myself, standing there like, 'Why haven't I been drawn before?' I'd also been doing sketches of veins; I'm interested in the inner workings of the human body in the broader context of connection to the physical world. That was the basis for showing the roots, which I outlined in red to emphasize that vein-like quality. I exist in my mind quite frequently, and art helps me to connect with the world."

click to enlarge "Tooth" by Nathan Oliver White
  • "Tooth" by Nathan Oliver White

NATHAN OLIVER WHITE [Recent graduate of dental school presents "Tooth"; leads the band Nathan Oliver]

"This piece is a rarity for me because I usually don't like being too straightforward with music or art. It's about 10 inches high. I carved it from a giant block of wood with hand files and chisels. The shape is generalized, but pretty anatomically correct. ... Before dental school, I took a sculpture class because I wanted to get some experience with 3-D perception. A lot of people are fearful of coming to the dentist, so I guess this was about taking a darkly comic poke at that and downplaying it at the same time: something to help people relax."

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