Jack Olson Gallery hosts ‘The Arts Converge,’ explores modern art, Asian musical traditions

The Arts ConvergeNIU’s Jack Olson Gallery is hosting “The Arts Converge: Contemporary Art and Asian Musical Traditions,” a special exhibition that celebrates the creativity of contemporary artists who are working with traditional Asian music, sounds or cultural soundscapes.

“The Arts Converge” offers an arena where visual arts media, musical creativity and theatrical performance can merge, the past and present can meet, sight and sound can converse and individual experience can prompt a universal awareness.

Open through Friday, Oct. 12, and planned as a counterpart to the NIU Art Museum’s exhibition “Music for the Divine” featuring Burmese traditional music instruments, “The Arts Converge” presents works with Indian, Southeast Asian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese cultural references.

The exhibition also was organized in coordination with two international conferences (on Cambodia Studies and Burma Studies) and an important concert celebrating the music of Chinary Ung, making the Fall 2012 semester unusually rich in its focus on the Asian experience.

Works include paintings by California-based artist Brenda Louie responding to the ancient Chinese bronze bell (bian zhong) and contemporary Western music, and by New York-based artist Avani Patel inspired by traditional Indian dance forms such as bharatnatyam and kathak.

Video art by Bart Woodstrup, an NIU assistant professor of time arts, references Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning and the arts, while Vicky Yen, formerly of the Chicago area, uses Chinese dialogue and verbal phrasing creatively in her videos.

Robert Krawczyk, associate professor at the College of Architecture Illinois Institute of Technology, visualizes Indonesian children’s songs with laser-cut wood compositions, while New York-based artist Chee Wang Ng offers a work with video and installation titled “108 Global Rice Bowls.”

The exhibition also will feature exciting concerts.

All concerts are free and will be held in the NIU School of Music Building, northwest of Gilbert and College drives. Free event parking in available.

Tatsu Aoki

Tatsu Aoki

Tatsu Aoki will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, in the Recital Hall of the NIU Music Building.

Aoki is an adjunct professor in the Film, Video, and New Media Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is well known in the Chicago area for his advocacy of the Chicago Asian American community and activity in jazz performance.

His concert will feature elements of traditional Japanese instruments, such as the taiko (traditional drum) or shamisen (traditional three-stringed lute), and performances by Korean drum/ performance artist and vocalist Dohee Lee, Tsukasa Taiko of Chicago and jazz compositions from Tatsu’s Miyumi Project.

The concert is co-sponsored by the Asian American Jazz Festival.

Earlier in the day, Lee will offer a special lecture on Korean shamanic ritual and performance art in the Recital Hall from 10 a.m. to noon. Aoki will offer a lecture on geisha-style music and shamisen with performance from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the same venue.

On the final day of the exhibition, Akemi Naito, Kristine Marx and Satoko Inoue will perform a concert of works by Naito, including Ryūsuimon Study. The concert begins at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, in the Recital Hall.

New York-based Japanese composer Naito has collaborated with Marx (a visual artist and assistant professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia) and Inoue (a Tokyo-based pianist and associate professor at Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo) to create a work inspired by the water patterns (ryūsuimon) seen on ancient Japanese ceremonial bronze bells (dōtaku).

Akemi Naito

Akemi Naito

The concert will feature Naito’s compositions, Marx’s video art, Inoue’s piano performance and a guest performance by Greg Beyer, NIU School of Music associate professor of percussion.

Later in October, Woodstrup and Curtis Bahn will present “Under Saraswati River,” a concert event featuring time art and electro-acoustic music. The concert is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, in the Recital Hall.

Woodstrup’s exquisite video art will be presented with the music of composer Curtis Bahn, who specializes in classical Indian music and contemporary interactive electronic performance. Bahn, who performs on sithar and electronic dilruba, is associate professor of Music Composition and Interactive Performance, and director of the Graduate Programs in the Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.

The exhibition was curated by Helen Nagata, associate professor of East Asian art history with assistance from Tracey Leigh Redding (B.A. Art History, ’13), Tiffany Arnold (M.A. candidate Anthropology) and Elise Houck (B.A. Art History ’12).

Special events were planned in close collaboration with Jui-Ching Wang, assistant professor of music education and world music;  Beyer, associate professor of percussion; Catherine Raymond, associate professor of South and Southeast Asian art history and director of the Center for Burma Studies; as well as Judy Ledgerwood, professor of cultural anthropology and director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and the NIU Art Museum.

For more information, call (815) 753-7923 or email theartsconverge@gmail.com or hnagata@niu.edu.

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