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Carmelita Couture

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Flowing robes left a technicolor trail in the memory of Philadelphia Fashion Week attendees this past September.  The prints on the Carmelita Couture runway were a dance of shapes and forms from the canvas of artist Victor Atkins, a painter who translates his spiritual identity into images. His primitive and brightly colored works maintain the weight and mystery of spiritual passion, painting light over darkness.  The models wore his paintings in various fabrics, some bold and printed onto opaque textiles, while others cast their transparent pattern over the form.  For the first time, Greco included menswear in styles that were as varied and whimsical as the womenswear.  Each look communicated her theme of modern priesthood drawn from Biblical texts, a position offered to all who believe in the gospel.

Greco began her line over 8 years ago.  Her pieces can be seen in magazines around the world and on the red carpet (most recently on Narcos star Cristina Umaña).  Fashion has always been a purposeful pursuit for Greco, extending beyond the balance of color and shape and into the recognition of beauty as a divine quality.   This most recent collection dives deeper into the spiritual, biblical, purpose of adornment.  “My calling is to make priestly garments, to share a priestly identity on the earth through fashion.”

Read more on the International Fine Art Fund blog

Mary Jane Miller – Iconographer

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Mary Jane Miller is not Orthodox, or a trained artist, but for the past twenty years she has practiced the tradition of Byzantine style iconography daily.  Her reverence for iconography led her to study the ancient painting techniques in depth. Within the act itself, she sees a reflection of her own beliefs.

The materials used in this sacred art form are a meeting of past and present, the earth and the divine, flesh and spirit.  Combined they expose a sense of awe and eternity.  “The medium is egg tempera, a recipe combining egg yolk which symbolizes the raw potential for life” Miller explains, “ mixed with million-year-old dirt, which is symbolic of eternity.  So, your mixing life with eternity and you create a divine image, images of Jesus, Mary, the apostles, and saints.”  The practice resonates with Miller personally and spiritually.  “I just thought ‘My God, I can push little particles with dirt around in an egg yolk emulsion and create beauty.’  It blended everything that I’m about.  I love nature, I love life, and I love God.”

Despite her articulate and deeply passionate words about iconography, Miller says, “I don’t think I’ve ever been an artist.”  She speaks with a balance of self-awareness and a sense of humor.  The marriage of depth and whit is what displays her humbleness.  Before she painted icons, Miller provided creative services for the purpose of paying the bills – jewelry, furniture design, painting mural.  “I never thought that I would be one of those artists that was driven.”

Read more on the International Fine Art Fund blog.

Chiharu Shiota

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Chiharu Shiota’s installation “Rain of Memories” (2016) is a web of red thread, so large and so tightly woven that it overwhelmingly fills the space.  Thousands of keys are strung throughout.  Red is usually heralded as the color of love, passion, fury, blood, and violence.  Something as small as a key can force a tapestry of all of these qualities to the surface of the consciousness, memories.

In Japanese culture, the red thread symbolizes the connection between a person and their true love, someone with whom they will impact the world.  This visualization of the delicate, yet, powerful connection of love is so human and crosses cultural boundaries.  The red thread found its way into the consciousness of British author Charlotte Bronte when Master Rochester confessed the depth of his affection for the namesake protagonist of her 1847 novel Jane Eyre.  Fragile string, resilient when not stretched too thin, bears the weight of being saturated with every emotion that red, itself, speaks of.  Unlike Master Rochester bemoaning the threat of the thread being stretched too thin across the ocean only to snap, Japanese myths assert that it cannot break.

The awe of “Rain of Memories,” bound in the keys and tangle of red string, comes from the sheer volume of such an emotional, universal chord.

The power of Shiota’s installations is in the depth of human experience.  The artist casts powerfully emotional concepts into simple colors and objects, inspiring reverence and forming associations with the complex moments of life.

Shiota’s vast catalogue of installations speak of connection, or lack of.  Shiota has also used black string in many works and utilized inanimate props, seemingly place-holders for humans and their emotional experiences.  The three-part installation “Trace of life” (2008) is one of Shiota’s darker works.  Longing, haunting interactions, and ultimately a universal red thread, take viewers through a range of emotions.

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First, a white gown, possibly bridal or a child’s first communion dress, is surrounded by black string.  The garment holds the significance of a child or a bride.  Piles of string on the floor restrict her movement and alter her steps, cords collect and hang over her like a cloud.  Few are connected to the tulle of her dress, like the taunting cruelty of intrusion.  Small triggers, just enough to make you flinch.

Trace of Life” also includes a room nearly bare of the signs of humanity, save for an empty chair, a messy desk, and just more than a dozen papers strewn on the floor.  A somber web of black cords that fill the white room, while the chair faces tall windows like a person looking out.  It is a position of reflection and contemplation.  The sense of stillness is strong, the non-movement of being seated in a chair is weighted down by the black web.  It feels like a scene of someone gazing out of those windows, frozen resignation and regret.

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The third component of “Trace of Life” is on the outside of this building, where many red strings stretch from a single point, each connected to a different style of shoe.  Outside of the rooms that are clouded by a dark web, there is connection among people in the world.  The vast variety of shoes is symbolic of the variety of human beings, and they’re connection (the red threads) all descend from a single point in the sky.  A universal compassion, a world-changing force of love, descends to meet each person.  The people inside the building, the girl restricted by her trauma and the person gazing out of the window, could find hope and connection.

 

See more of Shiota’s work: chiharu-shiota.com

All images credited to Chihari-Shiota.com

 

Ashley Tamber Designs

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Clothing and jewelry are often helmed as a form of art on the body.  The drape, cut, or subject of a focal piece is crafted with an expert hand.  Imagine pieces that don’t use you into a blank canvas or perfectly placed frame, but dialog with who you are. Ashley Tamber’s abstract jewelry draws admirers because each design meets the wearer in a place of resonance. When people communicate their interaction with a design, “like a Rorschach, it gives me a glimpse into their psyche,” says the Virginia-based designer.

 

This design aesthetic came from many experiments to try to create organic, human, and other-worldly adornments that felt somehow unsatisfying to Tamber. “I was exploring how to work with fiber and metal to make jewelry, and spending time making jewelry with actual fiber that I wasn’t happy with. I was also creating Memento Mori type things that weren’t pieces that could be worn easily.”  After seeing fellow studio artists play with some enamel, Tamber found the perfect tangible expression for the concept that she had been trying to capture.  Her pieces are a created “a mix of fiber and metal,” with, “a unique surface treatment.”  Tambers says that each one has a secret element of Memento Mori.

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While many of her current designs are named after celestial bodies, “The shapes were actually established before I decided to name them after planets,” says Tamber.  The process of choosing names was delicate, but ultimately a pleasant surprise.  “I really liked the aspect of everyone seeing something different in them so I didn’t want to take away from that, but I wanted to name the shapes so I could designate between them and people could connect with them more emotionally.”  It was her father who suggested that she name them after planetary hosts. “Since I was little I was taught astrology and weird lore about the sky and the things in it,” she says. “I think when he suggested that naming scheme my jaw actually dropped and we high-fived because it was so obviously fitting and perfect.”

 

Tamber’s inspirational gift, the mystery of creativity, is her ability make forms out of what most people see as air.  “I think the best inspiration comes from outside the medium you’re working in,” she says.  “Colorful words can be really visually stimulating to me.”  Also, she finds that, “Writing and words seem to be a great way for me to be creative but also reign my ideas in a little.”

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Tamber also finds inspiration in visuals, the patterns and creatures nature.  Quite a few of her works are directly derived natural symbols and animals.  Like many artists, sparks of inspiration also come from the serendipitous: “I try to hang on to that childlike sense of wonder and curiosity because it allows me to look at everyday things as an ‘experience,’” she says.  “I was hiking around the Shenango River Lake with my cousin the other day and she found a rock that looked like a galaxy. That sort of felt like synchronicity.”

 

Ashley Tamber Designs on Etsy

instagram: @ashleytamber

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Flesh, Blood, and Spirit

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Christ in the Wilderness (2011)

The man struggles to rise to his feet.  Dark jackals are hunting him and a serpent is poised to strike at his heel.  He is ruddy, eyes downcast, and nude.  In the swirl of a bright, geometric cloud, pained, compassionate faces offer a had to lift him up.  In a darker end of the spectrum, a horned figure watches.

This is not a depiction of Jesus radiating gold and light, smiling with inhuman passivity.  This Jesus, in his fleshly body, is in the throes of a battle between light and dark, the human body and the soul, his face molded by emotion.  This is his own battle in the wilderness from the book of Matthew, Chapter 4, passages 1-11.

Edward Knippers’ paintings, like “Christ in the Wilderness,” offer a depiction of Biblical figures grounded by physical bodies.  Bodies contorted, bodies in action.  His impressionistic application of ruddy flesh tones echoes the blood and the pulse beneath.  They are not inhuman.

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Peter Led From Prison (The Dreams of Men) [2011]

When admiring the realistic quality of his work, the visceral nature of the human body, it is hard to imagine that Knippers was formerly a still-life painter.  In the Paris opera house, a Ballet Russes presentation of the parable of The Prodigal Son altered the artist’s perspective on the figure.  Inspired by the power of the body and narrative combined in Balanchine’s choreography, Knippers began studying the human form.  Drawing on his beliefs, he wanted to make images that reflected his personal interaction with biblical texts.  “The narrative of scripture cuts through our falsities and brings a clarity to our minds.”  This corresponds to Knippers fascination with abstract expressionism and primitive art because “there’s a way that the primitive catches you off guard.”  In this vein, Knippers offers an image of Jesus with the same flesh, blood, and body as his other subjects.  This grounds Christ, bringing him out of distant imaginations of him nearly without a body.  The notion of a physical body enduring a crucifixion leaves the range of abstract notions and enters the realm of real, provoking thought.

Dark and light, and the spirit and the body, are constant dualities in Knippers’ work.  Drawn from his past abstract still-lifes the “intrusion of another kind of reality” is a theme in all of his works.  Cubic shapes interact with the classical, realistic bodies as an analogy for the spirit world. These colorful elements cover figures as if to protect, guiding them with outstretched arms.  Darker forms represent the dark spiritual elements.  In “The Dreams of Men (Peter Led from Prison),” the kaleidoscope emanates near his face, like a halo, as an angel leads him through a wreckage of shackles and bodies, people who appear to be dead physically or spiritually.

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The Stoning of Stephen (1998)

 

The Sacrifice of Baal

The Sacrifice of Baal (1995)

Up until the early 2000s, Knippers’ paintings were darker, dealing with the “heavier nature of contending with a greater reality.”  The weight of flesh and shadows looms heavily on the canvas with figures painted at an immense scale to illuminate the magnitude of strife.  Knippers was then more interested in the “earthy, solid manner,” of the spiritual narrative.

The violent quality of Knippers paintings varies, ebbs and flows.  The pulse of action rises and mellows.  Knippers says, “we live in such a world that when true grace comes it’s going to be a violent act.”  He compares it to the perspective-altering coming of spring when “grass breaks through concrete.”  Grace on Knippers’ canvas is not soft, instead a fearsome and beautiful thing.

 

All images courtesy of edwardknippers.com 

Read more on the International Fine Art Fund Blog

Everglow

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Saturated colors curl into each other, fresh blood and cobalt, kryptonite green and gerbera daisy golden yellow.  The impact of such primary hues on a single canvas registers associations with joy, then horror sinks in.  What appears to be the large face of a magnolia is being devoured and invaded by the surrounding swirl of colors.  In this piece, “Contagion” by Laurel Holloman, the curdling, red shape appears to be bleeding out of the flower’s center.  The warm balance of golden yellow and purple in each petal are slowly taken over by red veins.

“There is the threat of violence,” says Holloman of the paintings in her recently opened show, Everglow, at Museum Jan van der Togt in Amsteleveen, Netherlands.  Holloman’s travels, exploring nature and photographing animals from Big Sur, California to snowshoeing in Aspen, informed her perspective on the state of natural affairs.  “I wanted to explore seasons that were out of order, and a feeling that something so innocent is unaware of the destruction around it.”  The deer, and the other featured pelican and seal, are creatures she met along the way, witnessing environments that become stranger each year.

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Holloman’s acclaim came from her large, meditative works, often focused on inner landscapes.  This theme wove into both the abstracts paintings and the faces in her realistic portraits.  The Fifth Element, Holloman’s 2014 series, explored the intersection between science and nature, but “Everglow is a more developed journey in that it goes deeper into the harm humans can do to the earth and the creatures in it.”

“I feel my earlier work is my attempt to find an escape from a chaotic world,” says Holloman.   All the world Inside (2013) was dominated by cooler colors (one prominent red piece was a deep merlot), and The Fifth Element featured primary colors softened to the texture of the Northern Lights.  “I was more interested in creating chaos for this show, because it was the only way to tell the story I wanted to tell.”  Influenced by Adrien Ghenie’s intersection of classical realism and distortion, and Herbert Brandl’s expressive landscapes, Holloman marries the realistic threat of a disrupted environment and the distance that innocence allows.  “I wanted to make each piece a bit of a fairy tale in which there are both innocence and violence.”

Finding this balance was a challenge.  It took nearly six months for Holloman “to balance the innocence and the violence and keep my style from before.”  She can now see the thread between 2013’s “Swell,” an oceanic abstract, and the images in Everglow.  “Swell” diverted from her other large works.  Its power didn’t come from a sense of presence and majesty, but from the depiction of a dark ocean void and the motion of curling waves.  “Silent Spring” and “Light in August” feature a serene, and realistically styled, deer amidst an abstraction of violent colors.  There is a section that feels like a dark void where each color is born.  It is, “a world where the season was out of order and I wanted a feeling that [the deer’s] world could get sucked away at any moment.”  The dark shape of looms behind the unaware creature and is poised to overtake the disordered environment.

 Capricious & Elegance

A different mood characterizes a series of acrylic floral portraits in Everglow, a progression that feels like one flower opening up.  The much anticipated beauty of an opening flower is carefully looked after, not left to be ravaged like the natural elements in other works in the show.  This “raw beauty of foliage” is drenched in feminine hues (bold lipstick and petal pink) and “screams ‘woman’ or ‘life’” to the artist.  “Capricious,” who’s reference image Holloman photographed so closely that it became abstract, channels “the sensuality in the painting.”  She says that these counterparts to “Contagion” are “meant to feel and look at what we can ruin so easily if we are not careful.”  Holloman took the creation of this show as an opportunity to “push the envelope on style,” both contrasting her shows from the past, as well as pieces within the Everglow themselves.  “It is the first rule that I decided to break so that I could grow as an artist,” she says.  The stylistic progression of the show is akin to storytelling, the final chapter of which is a series of backlit LED paintings “symbolic of global warming,” meant to “achieve sort of a celestial feel to the finished installation.”

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Holloman’s reverence for nature and attention paid to the environment comes from her parents who valued being outdoors.  “I feel more balanced in nature.  Hiking or camping is something I have done since I was a little girl.”  While she envisions herself leaving Los Angeles someday, she does “live near the beach and that keeps me sane for now.”

 

Everglow – Laurel Holloman

Museum Jan van der Togt

Amsteleveen, Netherlands

 

Laurelholloman.net

 

 

Tattoos by Court

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When I interviewed Court at Morristown Tattoo I didn’t expect to meet a creative person who appreciates a 9-5 schedule.  The very word “artist” brings to mind someone who revels in chaos and uncertainty, and somehow comes out of it with awe-inspiring works.  Instead, Court finds structure to be appealing to his creative process.

Originally from Calisle, Pennsylvania, “the last town before the middle of nowhere,” Court gravitated to tattooing because of punk rock culture. Now, living in the Brewerytown section of Philadelphia, he tattoos at various shops in South Eastern, PA, and had been a guest artist at the Cezanne Tattoo Convention in Southern France three times.

In the late ‘90s, Court was a fine art student at Kutztown University by day, and a tattoo apprentice by night.  At Paradise Lost, he tattooed “anything that came in the door,” an approach to the art form that has changed overtime.  Nowadays, “It’s become more niche centered,” as many artists choose to become specialized in one type of tattoo, either by the style of art or subject matter.  “Fifteen years ago, some [artists] had a style that they liked.  But now, some people just do dot work, or lady heads.  ‘If you want a lady head, go to that guy!’”  While Court does have some preferences, Paradise Lost instilled in him the philosophy of tackling any request that is within his abilities.  He does especially enjoy fluid lettering and decorative floral images, but his portfolio displays an array of subject matter and styles.  Currently, he’s particularly inspired by art nouveau.

With the internet, more people research an artist based on their tattoo specialty. Smartphones have also changed the game.  Decorating the walls of Norristown Tattoo, where Court is stationed today, are “flash” images, historically springboards for clients to choose an image.  Now, people come in with their phone and a collection of images they’ve researched themselves, and flash has become more like wallpaper.

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(red pencil sketches by Court)

While Court has a masters of fine arts from Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts he doesn’t consider his painting and career in the tattoo world to be directly intertwined.  Still, each form of art involves the human form.  Court’s paintings are studies of the human body, and he also designed prosthetic medical contraptions of an erotic nature.

The social aspect of tattooing versus the solitary nature of fine art is also a big difference.  Mostly, Court enjoys tattooing because he’s a people person.  “It’s different from another art form, like painting or graphic design.  There’s not the same level of personal interaction.”

Court and his wife enjoy traveling, for his work and for recreation.  While she speaks Spanish fluently, Court speaks Spanish well.  Still, tattooing is a different story.  “The communication becomes very strange,” says Court.  “Lengthy conversations become less surface-y, it becomes difficult.  And I don’t speak French.  That communication thing becomes very weird when I’m tattooing someone and I’m not able to talk to them.”  When either party can’t speak a common language well “it’s harder to connect.”  That connection is what reveals the nuances of their likes and dislikes easier.  Still, Court enjoys working in different countries in guest spots at his friend’s shops and at conventions.

The solid relationships that Court has developed over the years, and over his quality of work, are what make customers return.  Sometimes with their kids who are getting tattoos.  Reflecting on that turn of events, working on his clients now adult sons and daughters, Court says, “You develop relationships.  That’s one of things that I like about the job.  You sit with somebody for an hour, four hours sometimes.”  These relationships are built on art and Court’s ability to express for others what they can’t for themselves, permanently on their skin.

 

tattoosbycourt.com

instagram: TattoosbyCourt

Sound Sanctuary Healing Arts

Music has great emotional, spiritual, and physiological effects on human beings.  “Music stimulates both hemispheres of the brain,” leaving no area untouched, the affects of which Meryl Lammers has seen over the past eleven years.  Lammers, a board-certified music therapist, utilizes “music intervention to accomplish specific therapeutic goals.”  Lammers is the sole proprietor of Sound Sanctuary Healing Arts, providing music therapy to the greater Philadelphia area.  Sessions for individuals, groups, and treatment facilities for addiction, Alzheimer’s, and special needs populations are among her clients.  Her goals vary based on the population.

Music sends electrical impulses to all areas of the brain, including the underdeveloped.  She has seen growth in the area of communication in her patients who are on the autism spectrum.  “A lot of the kids that I work with are non-verbal, but they love music,” says Lammers.  In this case, playing music and singing stimulates the speech center of the brain.  “Some of these kids can sing, even though they can’t speak, and they learn how to talk.”  They begin to communicate by choosing album covers and pictures that Lammers has associated with certain songs.  This is how they tell Lammers what song they want to sing with her.  Overtime, they begin to use one or two words conversationally to communicate their wants and needs.

One of her patients, who is 23 but considered mentally a child, “said ‘hi’ to her dad.  For the first time, she said ‘dad.’”  Lammers recounts this with genuine joy.  The girl also makes eye contact and smiles, behavioral traits that are usually rare, and her family will sometimes attend the sessions as well.  “They interact with each other in a way that they wouldn’t be interacting with each other if music wasn’t involved,” says Lammers.

“I always knew that I wanted to help people in some way,” but Lammers originally didn’t anticipate that this would involve her musical ability.  She studied music performance and composition at SUNY New Paltz in upstate New York, then dropped out for two years, unsure of what direction to take.  Upon her return to college, her compassion and her musical prowess would meet.  It was, “one of those serendipitous moments where they had placed me in the orientation group with music therapy students instead of regular music students.”  After receiving her board-certification, Lammers worked in Florida and North Carolina, before settling in Pennsylvania.

The music therapy session takes shape based around the patients needs and musical preference.  For substance abuse therapy, Lammers uses guided imagery and live music with muscle relaxation techniques.  In this meditation, patients speak to their childhood self and affirm the trauma that they have suffered.  This unblocks the suppressed emotions that substances allowed them to push away.  Lammers also uses various song writing techniques, having her patients write poems that she puts to music or having them work together to create a piece as a group.  By creating something, “the goal is that they feel a sense of self esteem, that they’ve accomplished something,” feelings that addiction often takes away.

Lammers also took part in A Peaceful Time for the Healing Warrior, a mindfulness session for military veterans in North Carolina.  Held in the Ashville V.A. Medical Center, the session was started by Jude Toy and Cindy Kirkland, who practice meditation and yoga.  The program was specifically developed for veterans with substance abuse issues, but was soon opened up to all veterans.  Through reflexology, relaxation techniques, and music therapy the veterans were astonished by their own ability to open up to each other about the trauma that they experienced in war.  “Music has a way of creating an immediate bond because it’s such a universal language,” says Lammers.  One of the center’s staff members wanted to work with her to develop a music therapy program, but the government froze V.A. funds soon after her last visit four years ago.  Lammers feels that the need for support for veterans is great and hopes to start a music therapy program for them sometime in the future.

While Lammers is passionate about each population that she serves, hospice care stands out.  When she was fourteen her grandfather passed away.  “He was like the pillar of our family,” and as he was losing his battle with cancer the family began to break down.   “I just remember that the hospice nurse was the calm in the chaos of the storm and that stuck with me.”  In college, one of her professors educated the class extensively on hospice care and helped Lammers find an internship.  After graduation, Lammers worked at Seasons Hospice in King of Prussia, and Heartland Hospice in Chaddsford before starting her own practice.

Treatment is a messy process and varies in each case.  Testimonials for Sound Sanctuary Healing Arts point to Lammer’s work as the calm in the storm of her patients lives, with music leading them out of them out of the chaos.

 

soundsanctuaryhealingarts.com

Nichole Rohrbach – Harp&Soul

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“The harp, to me, is fascinating in so many different ways.  The history behind it, how it operates and works, how you don’t even have to play it and people are just awed by it.”  Nichole Rohrbach then strums her six-foot-tall pedal harp.  In one motion, a kaleidoscope of color and light is released from the instruments strings.  While this sound does invoke a second wave of awe, after the instruments beauty, Rohrbach can do so much more.  She can play an entire set of classical music or a Lady Gaga’s hit singles.  Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is one of the most popular songs incorporated into her set.

Rohrbach’s LLC, Harp & Soul, provides a soundtrack for weddings, public, and private events around the country.  Rohrbach will play solo, but she offers several options for accompaniment to create a package.  “I have colleagues who play a lot of different [instruments].”  Rohrbach’s roster of fellow musicians includes the cello, piano/keyboard, violin, viola, flute, guitar, drums and voice.  While she says that “the majority of people will do a good combination,” of modern and classical music, Harp & Soul’s requested sets have included an array of genre’s.  Sometimes, clients request only Broadway show tunes, country, Disney music, or film soundtracks.  “Every once in a while, I’ll have someone come in who is really into classical music and they love Bach and they want all Bach at their wedding,” otherwise, Rohrbach will play a variety of music.  She considers her most unusual request, “that actually sounded really cool on the harp,” to be ‘Smell’s Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana.

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Rohrbach’s journey to playing the harp began when she was a child.  An illustration in a Bible storybook of David playing the harp enchanted her and she declared that she wanted to play the harp.  At the behest of her father, a French horn player, she studied the piano and the violin until she reached a certain level of mastery.  When she was turning thirteen, Rohrbach received her long awaited gift, a 38 stringed Lyon and Healy lever harp.  Her years of musical experience allowed her to take to the harp quickly.  Over a year later, Rohrbach played at her instructors wedding and began receiving requests for gigs.  She created her own website and volunteered to play at local historical events in Pottstown.  There, she gave out business cards and the rest is history.

In addition to performing, Rohrbach is a private music teacher and the secretary of the American Harp Society’s Philadelphia chapter.  The unusual choice of instrument brings together a community built on passion and healthy competition. The annual conference consists of workshops, lectures, and performances that unite harpists from around the country.  “Harpists are very familial,” says Rohrbach when recalling the other musical communities that she has been a part of.

Technically speaking, the harp is the most difficult instrument to play.  “You’re having to worry about pushing pedals and moving things all around, and also where your fingers are and your technique.  There’s no free body part,” unless Rohrbach is playing her electric harp.  The lever harp, a three-sided royal blue piece of modern art, is half the size of the grand pedal harps and allows ease for travel.  She often rents pedal harps in the far away cities where she plays an events.

“The harp is the oldest stringed instrument dating back to Egyptian times,” says Rohrbach.  Her artistic prowess with the harp is met with an extensive knowledge of the instrument and how it changed over time.  Her choice to study music came from personal experience with instructors who couldn’t explain music from a technical point of view, “why it was written that way, what the structure was, what the common threads were between things.”  Rohrbach can pour over books about different types of harps and their functionality and reveal the intimidating instrument to the average person (for example, me).  By incorporating theory early into her beginning student’s lessons, she can shepherd them to convert popular songs into music for the harp.  “They all want to play things that they hear from the radio,” and Rohrbach takes them through the process of creating their own compositions.

While harps are available in a range of sizes, Rohrbach’s two pedal harps are mammoth and elegant at the same time.  They look, at first, like sculptures, then invoke a sense of fascination with their apparent moving parts.  Taught, long strings spin silky notes.  The warm tone of the wood and gold accents, paired with the instrument’s complex functionality, inspire fascination.  While Rohrbach also loves the piano, her enchantment with the harp matches that of her audiences.’  “Having played several instruments, there’s just not anything else like it,” she says.

 

harpistphilly.com

 

 

Sounds: Laura Marling

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photo by WayOutWest

There’s something seriously scary about Laura Marling.  She a little, ghost of a girl. Something tells you that that voice shouldn’t come out of that body, but it does.  She’s the figure in the swinging doorway of the saloon with a brimmed hat pulled low over her brow, and the woman on the edge of the cliff, swearing she doesn’t control the tumultuous sea with her eyes.  Wordlessly, you know she does.  Yes.

The voices of many storytellers from the past in one.  Laura Marling.

 

Laura Marling BBC6 Concert