AXP@Home Students Celebrate New Beginnings with Paint-to-Music Workshop

“The ultimate currency in human existence is time—and how you spend it. It’s being spent every second of your life, and you can never get it back.”

Music Director Carl St.Clair

With 2020 came a collective anxiety, as the pandemic quickly shirted our routines, work schedules and social lives. Despite the challenges of adjusting to this new normal, the arts-X-press team found a way to carry on their tradition of summer fun by introducing AXP@Home, the remote format of Pacific Symphony’s immersive arts summer camp. With the success of last summer’s virtual camp, AXP@Home has since been expanded through alumni workshops that focus on a different art form each month. 

With the dawn of the New Year, AXP@Home invited students back to celebrate new beginnings and explore how the fusion of instrumental music and visual art can inspire creative expression. 

Jennise Hwang, Pacific Symphony ‘s principal second violinist, joined the workshop as a special guest to play a collection of her favorite pieces that represent the excitement and optimism of a fresh start.

While listening to the pieces played by Jennise, AXP@Home students reflected on the music in real-time through drawing and painting, with guidance from visual arts instructor Allison Chatman Trujillo. Using an array of different colors, patterns and movement styles, students explored the language of music through their own visual interpretation of Jennise’s solo violin renditions of Jules Massenet’s Méditation from Thaïs, “A Whole New World” from Disney’s “Aladdin” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

Allison led students through exercises and provided a brief history of the connection between the visual arts and music. She emphasized that listening to music “can bring back a memory or trigger emotions, whether it’s happy, sad or uplifting. There is no right or wrong way to describe what you feel or see when you listen to music.” 

Upon listening to “A Whole New World,” Counselor Kayla described her corresponding art piece as a representation of legato style, or long and flowing sound. “I took colors that reminded me of the night to go with the mood and memories of the song.” 

In reflecting “The Star Spangled Banner,” AXP alumna Brooke “blended a large range of colors with shading dynamics in order to visualize the meaning of togetherness from the piece.” 

AXP alumna Sophia noted how she communicated emotion in her painting by using “both light and dark colors to symbolize the parts in the piece that were happier than others.” 

Prior to beginning the creative exercise, Carl St.Clair, music director of Pacific Symphony and arts-X-press co-founder, joined students in discussion to reflect on the opportunities of the new year and their individual meanings of success. 

“Just to be able to live a happy life would be [my own personal definition of success], AXP alumnus Ryan expressed. “I don’t think money necessarily differentiates success from failure, as long as you’re happy in your life overall.” 

St.Clair encouraged students to maximize their opportunities for success by being aware of how they spend their time. “The ultimate currency in human existence is time—and how you spend it. It’s being spent every second of your life, and you can never get it back.” 

These moments of reflection showcase how the arts can continue to push us beyond adversity and help us embrace new opportunities as part of our creative processes. Furthermore, exhibiting the close relationship between music and visual art can also expand our artistic interpretations and allow us to perceive the world in a different light. 

St.Clair emphasized how “the happiness and joy we get out of our personal accomplishments” can always define our success. Regardless of the challenges we face individually or the afflictions that overwhelm our world, it remains important to center ourselves with what brings us meaningful enjoyment and connects us to fresh perspectives. 

The next workshop in the AXP@Home Alumni Workshop series—“Building Confidence & Embracing Quality”—will be a dance-centered workshop taking place on Weds., Feb. 24, 2021. 

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