Part III, Nimbus


During a trip to New York in December 2016, Colette and I met for lunch in the Upper East Side neighborhood where she lived. I told her I was interested in applying for an artist residency at Moulin a Nef in Auvillar, in the southwest of France. She said that her mother’s family hailed from the area very near there. On my way home on the bus from NYC, I was inspired while reading her gift of a collection of her poems entitled “Spinoza Doesn’t Come Here Anymore”; specifically her poem “My Priest Father’s” and the idea started to form. By spring of 2017, I wrote to tell Colette that I would like to create a work based on her early life, and ask for her blessing. Colette said she didn’t want it to be too dark, and I readily assured her that I saw it as a work of transformation, resiliency, the creative force behind anger and the creative power of love.Of the many poems she wrote about her early years and her imaginings of her parents’ moments together, I chose seven. As I read through the stack of poems Colette mailed me -- those that dealt with her thoughts on her father, on the feelings her mother had or did not have about the relationship, and on her own memories of life at the orphanage – I was struck by her frequent use of the word clouds within these poems. Colette told me that she finds solace in nature, in the trees and especially the sky. Forever in search of visual components to my work, I immediately thought of Ethan Jackson, an artist I met while on retreat at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts – the same place I had met Colette ten years prior.

So Nimbus would be an artistic collaboration between Colette, visual artist Ethan Jackson and myself, a music composer. It would be a work for chamber ensemble, voice and spoken word. Ethan’s work with camera obscura, time-lapse landscape, sky imagery and interactive digital video techniques would create a visual representation/projection of the clouds and a space in which Nimbus might exist – tying it all together and realizing a third element to our music/words collaboration.