Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Artistic Cross-pollination

As a musician, I often have opportunities to collaborate and jam with fellow musicians. In 2009, though, I was lucky enough to enjoy some cross-disciplinary collaborations. I'd like to share these experiences with you in that hope that they will inspire you to find ways to cross-pollinate your work with that of other artists.

The first of these collaborations actually started in the spring of 2008. My friend, Josephine Guidolin, offered to shoot photos of me to use on the album cover and liner notes of my cd, Love Bites. I don't enjoy having my photo taken and was relieved at the thought of doing the photo shoot with an old friend. I had some ideas about what I wanted and Joey brought her ideas and inspiration to the shoot, too. We shot most of the photos in Dufferin Grove park, a few at my apartment building and some more at an abandoned building in my neighbourhood. Because of the title of my cd, I wanted some close ups of me biting into a pear or apple. We found some beautiful pears at the Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market and Joey put together just the right composition and lighting for a nice, juicy bite.

Flash forward a year to the summer of 2009: Joey dropped me a line to let me know that she would be submitting the pear photo, along with a number of others, to a jury for consideration as street banners in the Bloorcourt business district. Lo and behold the pear shot, and several of Joey's other photos, were selected. The banners were installed in early December and now a giant image of my nose and mouth can be viewed at the corner of Bloor and Delaware (and virtually here.)

The other major cross-collaboration I enjoyed this year was with visual artist, Alex Mac Donald. I met Alex at the Tallgrass Festival in Seaforth, Nova Scotia, in 2008, where he provided us with excellent sound and shared some of his marvelous original songs around the bonfire at the end of that glorious day. This year, Alex decided to create a series of videos in which he paints abstract works on glass to the sound of independent musicians. When I heard about this, I eagerly asked if I could contribute my song, Mercury Lights, to the project; Alex graciously accepted my offer. The result is simply stunning as you can see for yourself (through the miracle of YouTube).

I am very moved by the way these projects have broadened my understanding of how we can inspire one another as artists and how rich and fertile we can be in collaboration with one another. I am looking forward to further collaborations in 2010.

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