The Spring 2022 issues features the subtle and profound impact sound can have on the experience of art. Additional essays focus on Harry Bertoia: Sculpting Mid-Century Modern Life, Nasher Prize, and the works of artists Lynda Benglis, Jeff Gibbons, Magali Reus, and Tavares Strachan.
My friend Fred Holston often reminds me how, during a particularly dark emotional time, they would come to the Nasher garden each Sunday at noon to go and stand inside the Richard Serra sculpture My Curves Are Not Mad and listen to the bells of the Cathedral de Guadalupe toll out the hour from up the road. Closing their eyes, Fred would listen as the thick steel sides of the sculpture absorbed the bell tolls, trapping them and making them private. “It was my church, and it saved my life,” they say, without a hint of drama, only joy—“the chorus of my enlightenment.”
While our current exhibition Harry Bertoia: Sculpting Mid-Century Modern Life was being installed, I had the pleasure of watching co-curator Marin Sullivan activate Bertoia’s sounding sculptures, or tonals, installed in the gallery. The sound echoed off the stone walls of the space, growing and growing until the room felt full of it, compelling me to turn to our chief curator, Jed Morse, to say that I now understood the architecture of our Renzo Piano-designed museum in a whole new way. The classical temples Piano had in mind when he built the Nasher suddenly carried a layered meaning as the near-liturgical sound of these simple metal instruments, which wave like blades of grass when strummed, invisibly swelled within the limits of the building.
This issue of The Nasher is dedicated to how sound, by virtue of its contingent relationship to physical things—sculpture, buildings, the landscape, our bodies—can describe the ‘internal life of something,’ as artist Luke Fowler says it in his interview here, ‘Good Vibrations,’ with Nasher exhibition artist Olivia Block. More to the point, this issue is dedicated to the way we absorb vibrations such as these, and how the experience of sound changes one’s mind, changes one’s life.
Let’s have a listen.
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