Color of Sound
For Hollis Jeffcoat, her work is also about finding the right music. The Sanibel artist uses song and instrumentals to animate her imagination, opening the doors and windows of her mind to invent and shape her colorful artwork. Enter Kat Epple, a celebrated composer and musician whose work incites Jeffcoat, keying a neurological process that changes song to colors, she says― synesthesia, in this case allowing Jeffcoat to visualize Epple’s music, literally translating audio to visual.
The women have worked together in "The Color of Sound, The Sound of Color," a Sanibel exhibit of Jeffcoat’s work inspired by Epple’s honeyed flute. Epple’s music “opens so many doors,” says Jeffcoat, whose abstract expressionist artwork is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Montreal), several private collections and is featured at the Watson MacRae Gallery on Sanibel where "The Color of Sound" exhibited earlier this year.
What works for Jeffcoat, who has studied in Paris and paints with her canvas on the floor, doesn’t necessarily work in reverse― Epple is more inspired by birds, wind and water, natural surroundings, she says. Her flute is ethereal, as such, and has been recognized with Emmy success and Grammy nominations. Yet Epple is pleased to be the catalyst for inspiring others.
Jeffcoat discovered her proclivity to synesthesia while studying in France some four decades back. At first relating time with color, she explains, then numbers and certain smells, but mostly sounds and music, layering paint in striking greens, blues and reds, removing or adding as the inspiration takes
hold, she says. One of her abstracts at Watson MacRae, for example, took months to complete, as the days merged and the music energized her creativity. Ultimately, it’s about the completed work, not the process.
Epple’s career in music, meanwhile, stretches back to the 1970s. “It’s led to such an exciting life, and all the lessons it’s taught me,” she says, adding that she once suffered from stage fright, but her flute now acts as prayer beads and helps her overcome such obstacles.
Her career included an exciting time performing at openings for the famed artist Robert Rauschenberg, and at evening sessions at his Captiva home. She began performing with Bob Stohl in 1972, she on flute, he on a hybrid synthesizer, pioneering the dreamy “Space Age” compositions associated with film soundtracks. Fort Myers artist and writer David Acevedo says of Epple’s work: “Music and imagery are a shared thread for the musician, who tends to surpass the ordinary. Epple has had an impact internationally, whether performing in Russia and China or composing a score for a surround-sound animated film for the Hong Kong Science Museum.”
Epple today composes in her Fort Myers studio and performs worldwide. Epple and Jeffcoat plan to continue inspiring one another, both say.
THE WOMEN HAVE WORKED TOGETHER IN "THE COLOR OF SOUND, THE SOUND OF COLOR," A SANIBEL EXHIBIT OF JEFFCOAT’S WORK INSPIRED BY EPPLE’S HONEYED FLUTE.
Kat Epple's music inspires the artist Hollis Jeffcoat.
Hollis Jeffcoat discovered that music triggers an internal process of changing sound to color. Her work is in museums and private collections.