Suzie Sparks: What's the Shape of Silence

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The works of art in Suzie Sparks’ What’s the Shape of Silence – on view in the Robertshaw Gallery (first level) – are part of a body of work that is an exploration of a new media and technique, as well as an exploration of sight and sound.

Below, Suzie describes this work in her own words.

This series is all based on visual representations of patterns and textures of sound. I have a rare and wonderful gift called Synesthesia. When I listen to music, I see colors, shapes, patterns, and the movement of the music. I was unaware that this was something unusual. I thought everyone “saw” music. Until a gentleman saw a piece of my work in this series and asked about the technique behind the work, I didn’t know it was something special.

A while ago I was shown a new technique using what I call “Ink, Tape & Magic,” a process that involves aluminum plumber’s tape, foam core, India ink and a drawing/etching process. The result is a piece that looks like a cross between an etching plate and a piece of metal repoussé work.

The series began with a song by a band named “Kinky” titled the “Headphonist.” It is about walking around wearing your headphones, giving your own sound to your visual world, and basically blocking out the sounds of the rest of the world around you. There is a line in the song that goes, “… everything that I see has a sound, but what is the shape of silence?” After listening to this one day in the car, I started thinking about pattern, rhythm and texture in sound and how best to represent that visually. I was introduced to the “Ink, Tape & Magic” around the same time, and decided to experiment with the two. I spent many hours just listening to different songs and types of music, everything from classical to jazz, to new age, to funk & classic rock and anything else that I could get my hands and ears on. And, while I listened, I paid close attention to the “visual” patterns that the music created. This process has culminated in my current ART of Noise series, which to date numbers 170 pieces and is still growing.