Warm and creatively animated memories were a mesmerizing sight in the Olive DeLuce Performing Arts Theatre Monday, as the colorful stitchings worked to tell a complicated story of a life.
Visiting artist Cassia Kite shared a freshly innovative performance of “sound stitching,” with the compilation of stitchwork artistic pieces and musical compositions. Weaving her childhood and adulthood memories into her colorful stitchings paved the way for an idea that has become a unique gallery of “sound stitched” masterpieces, a concept which Kite created herself.
In 2012, Kite stepped away from her drawings and paintings, and developed a keen interest in quilting. Enjoying the feel of a needle and thread, Kite decided to take her hobby to the next step.
“I fell in love with the process,” Kite said during her artist talk, before presenting her performances. “And I started looking back at some of the drawings I did, and I thought, ‘If I can make a quilt, I can stitch my drawing, and if I can stitch my drawings, I can stitch my paintings.”
Taking inspirations from her family farm in Nebraska and her childhood memories, which filled the home, she began her stitchwork journey.
With the memories of piano lessons from her grandmother flooding her mind at the sight of the ancestral home, Kite first explored the idea of combining the sounds with stitching.
“I was thinking, when I was younger, playing the piano—sound travels forever in the country,” Kite said. “I wondered what it was like to hear the piano coming from this image, and I thought ‘Well, there’s something there, and I’m interested.’”
Continuing with her idea, she began to research the concept of associating colors with sounds. With a particular knack for using colored thread in the stitched recreations of her paintings, Kite toyed with the color-sound combination.
Her familiarity with the piano helped her to create the concept of sound stitching, by creating her own system, using the piano as a tool. By matching specific colors with keys of the piano, she created a way to read the colors top to bottom, left to right.
As the process progressed, Kite was able to place the color coordinated keys into a color map that can be transformed into an interpreted musical composition that would literally follow the color patterns of her stitchwork.
“I’d take the colors and plug them into music notations, and now, this is my language. And if I practice, I play them,” Kite said.
As Kite perfected her process, a soundstitching definition was formed.
“Soundstitching is an interdisciplinary, multimedia project that transforms color from a hand-stitched image into a musical composition that can be interpreted by a musician and/or performance artist,” Kite said. “The result is an organic combination of three forms of art into one collaborative, multisensory experience.”
From her experiences with Maryville she created stitched tapestries of the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building and Bearcat Stadium.
Northwest student James Cookinham, assistant music professor Joseph Tomasso, and professor of music William Richardson worked with Kite to compose separate music compositions of her soundstitched works.
Performed by the Northwest saxophone quartet, Northwest Jazz Combo, and pianist Jiwon Choi, Kite was able to bring the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building and Bearcat Stadium alive in a way that had never been done before.
After the performances of Kite’s soundstitching, Bearcats were welcomed into an open gallery of Kite’s many soundstitched artworks, each accompanied with a pair of headphones to enjoy to totality of the artworks.
Juniors Chance Casey and Dominique Delgado weighed on the importance of Kite’s memories to her stitchwork.
“It was really interesting how different the notes were from the colors,” Casey said. “The music had such a different feel from what the image looked like.”
Familiar with connecting memories to artworks, Delgado and other artist use similar methods.
“(Memories) are a road a lot of artist take,” Delgado said. “I’m from Texas, so I’ll bring that into my art because I miss it.”
Though inspiration from life experiences and memories are tools used by many artist, their personal definitions of art are ever-changing.
“Art is a lot of things, it’s expression, but it is also so much more,” Delgado said.
While Casey’s definition encompassed self expression, the personal extent of their meanings differed.
“Art to me is expressing my feelings,” Case said. “It’s purging negative thoughts.”