Hybrid art series returns to Blanton Museum to pay tribute to nature


Photo Credit: Lily Smith | Staff Videographer

Dancers, musicians and actors filled the galleries of the Blanton Museum with sound Sunday in a collective tribute to nature for “SoundSpace,” a hybrid art series.

The goal of Sunday’s event was to explore how artists engage with nature and respond to their surroundings, said event curator Steve Parker.

“We’re interested at this moment in contemporary issues and things that people are thinking about,” Parker said. “Environmentalism is one of those issues.”

The event showcased a variety of talent from UT alumni. Among the performers was the Bel Cuore Quartet, a saxophone quartet, that performed a three-person piece. The quartet presented “Drill, Baby, Drill,” a number about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“When you’re talking about the environment — the human impact is inescapable,” quartet member Sunil Gadgil said. “This piece serves as a reminder of that connection between what people say and their consequences on the ground, and that despite the passage of time, it’s important that nothing be forgotten.”

Also performing was UT alumna Alexa Capareda, a dancer with ARCOS Dance. Capareda’s choreography was based on her childhood memories of the typhoons and earthquakes that struck the Philippines.

“I think of waking up and knowing that school’s out but watching trees fall over and watching people wading through high water,” Capareda said. “Growing up in the Pacific Ring of Fire was just having an extreme respect for nature and what it can do.”

Capareda’s dance accompanied sound mixed by Parker that featured bat calls and other natural sound, something Parker found especially important to the event.

Some of the other acts found ways to combine sound with data ­— such as the UT San Antonio Trombone Choir, whose performance was based on seismographic readings from the Kobe earthquake of 1995 — and trumpeter Jacob Wick, whose work was written based on daily local weather conditions. 

The Blanton Museum remained open for general admission during the performances. Carolyn Elder said she stumbled across the event when she decided to visit the museum with her son, a graduate student at UT, and said she’s glad she found it. Elder said the theme of the event is particularly important in today’s political climate. 

“I would say (the government is) dismissing any connection to the Earth other than what we can get out of it for economic gain,” Elder said. “I think we as a country need to be connected to the Earth and realize that once we destroy it, it’s destroyed.”