Six Firestone High School art students were inspired by the Latinx and Black musicians of Sphinx Virtuosi to create vibrantly colored paintings of string musicians which will be unveiled on May 26 at the Sphinx concert at EJ Thomas Hall.
The collaboration between the painters of the Akron School for the Arts and professional musicians is the second time that this group of sophomores has artistically joined the performers presented by Tuesday Musical. Last year, the same six worked together on large canvases to paint images of musicians and dancers for the “Akron Legends of Jazz and Dance” concert in October 2019.
For the next Sphinx concert, the students were able to put more of their individual stamps on their paintings. Each student chose a photograph of a Sphinx artist they wanted to render and chose a dominant color for their painting.
Art teacher Patrick Dougherty walked them through three stages of painting, starting with a monochromatic acrylic painting. This was followed by a magazine collage step, here forming a face and pants or shirt that matches the dominant color in each painting.
“Part was practical, part was artistic expression,” Dougherty said of the collage work.
Due to the pandemic, work on the paintings has started at home. Students Jenny Wei, Evelyn Brooks, Rowan Loesch and Kamiyah Edwards finished their paintings at school, while Sydnee Wade and Robyn Moore finished working remotely from home.
Professor Dougherty also created a painting, choosing to work from a photo of a rehearsal Sphinx musician wearing jeans and a work shirt. A number of her students opted for glamorous figures in formal concert attire.
He was impressed with how the second year students handled the “modeling” of the clothes in the paintings, creating highlights and shadows to make them look 3D.
“I didn’t know Rowan [Brooks] was so impressionistic, “he said of the student’s pastel-purple color work of two violinists.” He seems to paint almost with a palette knife, his paint is applied in this way. “
Sphinx recordings also played an important role in the painting process.
“We listened to the music while we were painting and I think they are really impressed with the skill level, the dedication of these people,” Dougherty said of his students.
Dougherty said he enjoyed working alongside the students on their special project, which they started planning last summer. Wei served as the unofficial project manager, and the students did most of their work during the study hall.
“They don’t have a rating for it. They just have to do it for the love of painting,” he said.
This collaborative project was natural for the art students, three of whom – Loesch, Wei and Brooks – are also musicians who have played or continue to play in the school orchestra.
Originally, the Firestone group planned to finish their paintings live at the concert, adding water soluble oil paint as the last step to create a lovely chandelier. Due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus, however, the group decided to finish their paintings ahead of time.
Tuesday Musical executive director Cynthia Snider said she hoped to have the paintings on stage during the concert. In the past, the work of students from the Akron School for the Arts has been presented in the hall.
The Sphinx Virtuosi Quintet comes from the large group Sphinx Virtuosi, a professional chamber orchestra of 18 of the best classical black and Latin American soloists in the country. It is one of five professional ensembles of the Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based non-profit organization whose mission is to develop young classical black and Latino musicians.
The quintet works to advance diversity in classical music and engage young audiences by performing classical masterpieces alongside works by composers of color rarely presented.
On the May 26 program, works by black composers Xavier Foley and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson will be presented with “Ev’ry Voice” and Sinfonietta n ° 1. The cello solo “Seven” by Andrea Casarrubios will also be performed, a tribute essential workers as well as those who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The concert will end with Samuel Barber’s Adagio from the String Quartet and Antonin Dvorak’s Quartet in F major “American”.
Artistic writer Kerry Clawson can be reached at 330-996-3527 or [email protected]
Concert: Virtuoso Quintet of the Sphinx
On the scene: Ruben Rengel, Jannina Norpoth, Dana Kelley, Thomas Mesa, Christopher Johnson
When: 7:30 p.m. on May 26
Or: EJ Thomas Hall, University of Akron, 198 Hill St., Akron
Cost: Single tickets limited to $ 45, available online only
Student tickets: Release. Available at the EJ Thomas box office from 6.30 p.m. on May 26