Interdisciplinary artist Christine Cassano shares how she brought meditative sound explorations into her works of art during the COVID-19 pandemic isolation.
“Universal Algorithms,” part of the Mapping Oscillations series (2021, vibration painting and drawing on panel), 48 inches by 96 inches, in collaboration with sound artist Jimmy Peggie. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTINE CASSANO
“Sound as medium has expanded my approach to all of my work including painting, sculpture and installations,” says Christine Cassano (christinecassano.com), a person with synesthesia. “It brings in a new layer and offers new considerations as I weave together audible and visible structures inclusive of the patterns within our biological, technological and cosmological systems.”
Having recently opened her studio at Mesa Artspace Lofts to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art’s Scottsdale Arts ONE members (smoca.org), she gave art lovers an inside look to her creative world. Here, Cassano tells us how her passion began and how her unique process enables her to think more deeply about a rapidly emerging era of converging cartographies, networks and methods of hybridization.
“Foramina” (2021, handformed cast bronze), 2 inches by 2 inches by 2 inches—used to create “Universal Algorithms”. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTINE CASSANO
When did your passion for the arts begin? My mom tells stories of my fascination with crayons and markers as a baby. Apparently, as soon as I could hold them in my hands, I was quite expressive with them and no surface was safe! As I got older, I don’t think that ever stopped. There’s a calmness I get when my hands are working and I’ve always felt at home with my inner voice projected outwardly as art.
What did opening your art studio to SMoCA mean to you? As an institution, SMoCA is dedicated to educating and building audiences for modern and contemporary art. It’s an honor to have the museum wanting to invest its energy in local artists. I hosted 40 attendees in my studio and it gave me an opportunity to discuss the evolution of work as a whole. It was meaningful to engage directly with museum members and answer their thoughtful questions about my processes and practice.
What are you most excited about sharing your work with viewers in Scottsdale? In the summer of 2020, I began incorporating sound as medium into my work. It’s been a really wonderful trajectory for me and I’m excited to share more. What began as small, meditative sound explorations during COVID isolation developed from a natural skill set. As a person with synesthesia, certain senses are conjoined for me. For example, sound has always been a very intense and yet calming, visible experience. And although I’ve never had an interest in recreating a synesthetic experience for the viewer, I do have an interest in utilizing this unusual perception to make work that further explores the converging systems within our modern, hyperconnected world.
“Sequence and Conjunction” (2020, porcelain, copper and tinted acrylic), 120 inches by 120 inches by 48 inches—a suspended ceiling installation in the lobby of the Wexford Biomedical Campus, Phoenix. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTINE CASSANO
I’m visually drawn to our complex human-made patterns—the pathways, movement and connection points within the microcircuits we engineer to the macro-aerial views of our constructed cities. I gain inspiration and understanding from blending and weaving these disciplines to create new arrangements, connections points and morphogenetic forms. As I continue to thread their connections, I see correspondences to the biological kingdom as well as the cosmological. In essence, I’m constantly looking for binding agents that run through all things and it seemed like an important time for me to introduce frequency and sound into my work.
Can you explain an example of the relations with one of your recent works? I’ve been working on a series of sound paintings called Mapping Oscillations. It’s a series of paintings and drawings created using vibration from sound as medium. An example of a sound source would be using electromagnetic frequencies (not detectable by human ear). These recordings can be captured and adjusted into an audible frequency. That frequency is then applied to the painting’s surface as vibration. For the physical painting process, I take bronze hand-formed, organic forms I create and I use them as the painting tools. I dip them in paint and let them move across the surface to create paint patterns. Once dry, these paint marks become mapping points for hours of meditative, hand-drawn hyperconnections, which enable new visible patterns and formations to emerge. In essence, I’m enlisting frequency as a medium, and through the transference of sound, I’m able to turn inaudible sounds into a visible, tangible forms. I think of the whole process as exploring cymatics via synesthesia.
Artist Christine Cassano. PORTRAIT BY DEBORA FALCO
Tell us about your recent collaborations. As a visual artist with a focus on sculpture and installations, collaborating with artists that work in sound is such an exciting opportunity because it has allowed for a synthesis of two different disciplines. In the summer of 2020, just as I began exploring sound in my work, I was fortunate to be introduced to sound artist Shomit Barua. We quickly began to collaborate on an opportunity to install a porcelain sound installation at Tempe Center for the Arts gallery in February 2021. By this time, I had also begun work with bronze forms as suspended installations. This led to working with another sound artist, Bryn Corbett, as we documented these bronze bell formations and sounds in slow motion. It was during this time that I also met sound artist Jimmy Peggie of Sound Art Arizona and started attending their meetings. I found it to be a great group of open-minded artists. I had begun working on the Mapping Oscillation series and collaborated with Jimmy to incorporate his electromagnetic frequency recordings as a sound source.
It’s been about a year and a half since sound first appeared in my work. It’s opened many new avenues for me—new avenues within my own work, my mind and a great group of artists and collaborators I otherwise would not have met.