Fort Wayne Museum of Art Executive Director Charles Shepard wants you to think of light for a minute. Think of lighting that has the ability to change the mood of the room and in turn, transform the mood of the people who occupy it.
The museum’s new sound series, he says, works in the same way.
The sound is designed to take over a space and give you a variety of sensation and feelings, Shepard says. In this case, it’s particularly designed to increase your meditative and transcendental state.
The museum will have the first event in the series Saturday with the experimental sounds of local artist Adam Meyer, known as Dry Valleys, and Chicago artists Ant’lrd and Gardener.
Shepard says the event will take place in the museum auditorium, and the audience will able to sit wherever they would like within the space to experience the sound performance.
We felt that the containment in the auditorium would maximize the sense of losing yourself in the sound, he says. It’s about bringing another art form out. The things I’m thinking about are probably not going to show up on anybody’s stage.
Shepard says that he has wanted to incorporate a music-based art form into the museum’s variety of exhibits since he first came to Fort Wayne in 2003.
Not knowing the region when I first got here, I wanted to be sensitive and spend some time to see what kind of music is available. I kept dreaming up things that were competitive with other people’s things, and I didn’t want to do that. So I kind of let go of the concept for a while, he says. Then I started reading about a variety of people who are musicians, but they think of themselves as sound artists.
Shepard says he began discussing the idea with Meyer, a musician, artist and founder of COYA Creative and Development. Meyer has put out 40 releases with national and international sound artists through his record label, Sacred Phrases.
Meyer says he creates sound art with old recording equipment, field recorders and analog synthesizers. He says that sound art has fostered a collaborative online community.
I feel like it’s open-ended enough to gain attention of all types of people, he says. Whether people are into hip-hop, punk rock, dance music or any kind of rock music, they could connect to this stuff.
Meyer says the first event will feature experimental ambient music. But in the future Meyer would like to include nature-inspired soundscapes and sounds that are more raw and harsher to the ear.
One person might listen and feel really happy and another person might get a little confused, he says. I think this is true art, because of that level of interpretation. It changes from listener to listener, like a really good painting where each person has a different feeling.
Shepard says that there will be three or four events for the upcoming year; the museum has already begun to reach out to international sound artists for the second event, which he says will probably accompany a gallery show. He would like to have an exhibit that invites a dozen artists to design sound art for the museum’s existing collection.
I think it would be exciting to be in the gallery and lose yourself in the sound without seeing anything that tells you who actually made the sound, he says.
With the first event a head-on introduction without any distractions, Sheppard says he is aware that some people may walk away puzzled.
I’m pretty sure we will draw people who get it, and we will draw people who don’t get it all, he says. I think that maybe that’s a good thing. It’s always good to be challenged by things you can’t always get your head around. You have to come back and try it again.