When Art Explains Art
by McKenzie Stubbert
For my album “Waiting Room,” I commissioned the painter Zachary Johnson to create the original cover art. It could have simply been a beautiful piece that, like many album covers, was incredibly vague. Instead, I got a portrait of myself that reflected back to me exactly what I had made: something far more autobiographic. Like a lot of music, my album drew inspiration from many places. But I never expected the album art to reveal to me what I had been trying to uncover.
This album took me seven years to complete. It began as a handful of unrelated pieces I slowly tinkered with, trying to find my so-called “voice.” I struggled to understand what I was making and what connected them to each other. Much of the music originated in film and other visual projects. I have been a full-time freelance composer for about fifteen years. Over the years, certain elements, moments, or, in some cases, entire works jumped out to me as rather personal and something I wanted to use for myself.
There’s a long history of people having one foot in the art world and one foot in the music world. The latest example of this is Monica Stroik, whose band Requiem, has a new album, titled POPulist Agendas, out this week. Think complex, blissed-out post-rock with a heady drone component. (The lineup also includes guitarist Tristan Welch and Douglas Kallmeyer on synthesizer.) The group got together during the pandemic and has continued to make work that is, in Stroik’s words, “media and genre fluid.” I spoke with Stroik about the group’s music and her own visual art — and where these worlds converge.
We’re pleased to present an except from frequent Vol. 1 Brooklyn contributor Dmitry Samarov’s new book Paint By Numbers, which is available now in both print and audio editions.
Throughout his life, Alfred Jarry rarely held still. His is a body of work which defies easy classification, even in its more granular forms. As a writer alone, Jarry’s writings include fiction, plays, essays, and philosophy — and his work as a writer only accounts for a fraction of the art created in his 34 years on this planet.
I never met Vivian Maier and doubt whether we’d have gotten along if I had. Taciturn, solitary people obsessed with their own struggles don’t often make friends. Yet we walked the same streets, went the same places. We probably crossed paths more than once, but it was as strangers—the way so many do in the city—never meant to know one another as anything but passersby. Now, many, many strangers know Maier, or think they do. She probably wouldn’t like the […]
Since the 2016 Presidential election, some within the American left have suggested the existence of an inherent tension between advocating for the working class and being an inclusive movement for those of all sexualities. (This article from Slate has a good overview of the debate.) The art in the recent show “The Work of Love, The Queer of Labor” at Franklin Street Works stands as a welcome counterargument to that. The art featured within examines areas in which queer sexuality […]
How does one properly capture a work of art using only words on a page? If the artwork in question is a painting or sculpture that can be easily walked around and observes from a host of angles, the task becomes more plausible. There’s a way to describe the way a work is arranged, the craft of brushstrokes or molded material, the sensation of proximity. What happens, though, when the work of art is something more vast? What happens when […]
When the elevator doors open on the fourth floor of the New Museum I don’t know which way to look first. Every wall is covered snuggly by pictures and words. Some drawings are framed, others just tacked to the wall the way a teenager might display a band flyer swiped from a club wall after a gig. It’s a dense polyphony which demands attention without giving the viewer much guidance. A quick scan yields glimpses of Kennedy, Reagan, Bush, and […]