When Wu invited me to be involved in this project, I jumped at the chance! I love doing portraits, but I don’t usually work from photographs, so I liked that challenge. Before starting each composition, I listened to the music samples Wu provided for me. The samples corresponded to each of the individual people who are celebrated in this concert. Each piece of music was so distinctly different! It was a great way for me to start to get a feel for each individual. I started to write down words and images that came to me for each piece of music. Just listening to the music, I felt I had met each person and had a sense of who they are. From there I started to conceptualize how to organize each composition. I was able to visualize images and colors inspired by the music. The whole time I was painting, I was picturing each person seeing the work, and I was hoping they would feel I got it right!
This set of portraits began as digital manipulation of the photos Wu had sent me way back at the inception of this project. Learning their stories and seeing their faces, I tried to infuse each one with elements of their personalities. For Ferol, rays reminiscent of light beams shining her joy; Beth, bubbles like her unexpected abilities valiantly rising. James got puzzle pieces– a recognized symbol for the complexity of the autism spectrum– as well as his beloved piano. And for Nathan the showman, what could I do besides put him onstage, his face in shining stars? I hope the strong lines and high contrast style give the subjects of these portraits a sense of empowerment.
My desire in this piece was to express the joy found through the wondrous healing power of music. I chose to surround the musicians with harmonious, swirling color… bringing forth a cacophony of emotion… reminiscent of a carnival. I envisioned the music bringing these special souls together in a delightfully connected way. This piece was created by initially using pastels, and then by adding in a few digital flourishes. There may be darkness, but it is up to each of us to find the light in the well.
These were responses to the live performance.