Grasping for Light…

I was recently commissioned to write a short piece for A Far Cry for their “Portraits” concert at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in September 2018. The stipulation was that I would live the Museum’s apartment for a week to get to know the collection and who Isabella was, and then choose one work that would inspire the piece.

Upon arriving, I was concerned that the collection was going to overwhelm me and that choosing just one (or a few) works for inspiration would be a struggle. However, on the first day, from the moment I entered the famed “Yellow Room”, this painting just sucked me in. I stood in front it slack-jawed for quite a while, and knew without a doubt that it would be my inspiration.

When I stumbled upon this painting – Whistler’s “Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach” – I was speechless because of the starkness. When you stare at it, it sucks you in…and after a while and you can imagine yourself inside the mist of the painting, grasping to get closer to these specks of light represented by tiny globs of orange paint.

After the death of her only child, Ms. Gardner fell into a debilitating depression, for which her doctor eventually prescribed travel and new experiences. It was her emergence from this tragic experience and her subsequent travels around the world that rekindled her passion for art and kickstarted her mission for collecting it.

I was definitely thrown into a similar state after my father passed earlier this year, and certainly, have experienced the debilitating effects of depression from time to time. This piece serves as a metaphor for how Isabella was able to move through the stagnant mist of her mental state towards the light of who she was supposed to be.

Commissioned by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Blog interview by A Far Cry with Jessica Meyer

© Copyright 2017-2019 - Jessica Meyer | Composer, Violist, Educator