TPCAC | P.O. Box 863 | Troy, AL 36081 | (334) 670-2287

Art of Collaboration: A Joyous Exchange
Jerry Johnson / Diane Orlofsky / Pamela Allen

June 17 – July 25, 2015
Upper Galleries



Jerry R Johnson— After three decades of working in digital art and design, I admittedly surrender to the notion that the computer is more than merely a tool for me—rather, it has become as ubiquitous and life giving as the air that I breathe. I find it a scornful necessity and not just for solving visual communication problems in advertising or design. For me, digitization has evolved into an environmental and social space from which much of this life actuates—including that of art making. There was a time in my art career when drawn lines were literally graphite and tactile: canvas and illustration board defined boundaries. However, as a contemporary artist and designer, my immersion with pixels and digital screens became fundamental. In spite of this, my romantic and nostalgic affection for dimensionality and tactility has not diminished.

Ironically, the analog world truly is a world virtually full of surprising juxtapositions of light, texture and content.

So, it was providential when a music colleague and I met for conversation and coffee.  I listened to her passionately discuss this book that she was writing about choral music.  To be honest, I was hugely surprised that during our conversation there was minimal conversation regarding “music per se” rather enormous articulation about the collaborative dynamic of leading a choral group. This amazed and exhilarated me! Being an artist and designer, I too find the greatest reward in the process itself. Although I greatly appreciate (most times) the ultimate object that is created, my growth and my sense of purpose lie deep within the valley of the process. I emphatically relate to Diane Orlofsky’s concept of the process of corporate music making as a series of  “joyous exchanges”. 

Within minutes of our conversation we were discussing the possibilities of working collaboratively. It was originally considered that I might simply generate illustrations that would visually enhance these meditations. There was such a rich spiritual voice throughout these pages, I became too inspired to illustrate and proposed rather to illuminate.

As I read the meditations of The Joyous Exchange, I am reminded once again of the beauty and wonder of surprise at the attempts to orchestrate, compose and direct—to flesh out the ineffable. Starting with some basic images that hold special meaning to the author, I have attempted to stay true to The Joyous Exchange by concepting, juxtaposing and editing—joyfully connecting disparate elements to achieve some range of believability or not.

These illuminations brought great freedom to me as an artist to arrange compositions (much like a choral conductor) that explore relationships between predictable and unpredictable. Through these digital improvisations, I hope to convey “spontaneity and preparation, inquiry and affirmation, mystery and clarity, spirituality and reality”.

Thanks and credit given to the following artists for granting permission to utilize photographs and artwork as part of the extended collaboration:

    • Lizzie Orlofsky, artist/photographer from Troy, Alabama.
    • Carmine Errichiello, artist/painter from Greve, Toscana, Italy.

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Diane Orlofsky— I first encountered the term, “joyous exchange” while I was reading Mark Sooy’s book, Essays on Martin Luther’s Theology of Music (2006, Blue Maroon).  Sooy noted that “ . . . music, as a joyous expression of order, also expresses Luther’s concept of the ‘joyous exchange”---that Christ has taken the sinner’s sin to the cross and exchanged it for His own righteousness” (p. 30).  I was struck by the fact that Luther drew so many parallels between his theology and the music he loved so dearly. In a letter to Ludwig Senfl in 1530, Luther remarked, “I am not ashamed to confess publicly that next to theology there is no art which is equal of music, for she alone, after theology, can do what otherwise only theology can accomplish, namely, quiet and cheer up the soul of man . . .For this very reason the prophets cultivated no art so much as music in that they attached their theology not to geometry, nor to arithmetic, not to astronomy, but to music, speaking the truth through psalms and hymns” (Luther’s Works, Volume 49: Letters II, 428).

Borrowing the concept from Luther, I thought that it was also an accurate description of what occurs in choral music.  For me, choral music is so much more than notes on the page, conducting nuances, or external validation by audience applause.  There are joyous exchanges or connections that are forged between the composer, the conductor, the choir and the greater community that last well beyond the final note that is sung.  These relationships are equal parts spontaneity and preparation, inquiry and affirmation, mystery and clarity, spirituality and reality.  

Exchanging ideas with my art colleague, Jerry Johnson, seemed a logical joyful extension of the written word.  Jerry and I have always been intrigued by “the possible” – ours has been an aleatoric dance of layers and symbols, memories and materials, significant heart-songs and endless possibilities---pure artistic collaboration.  A joyous exchange.

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Pamela Allen— Over the past decade making art I find myself more intrigued with materials and the notion of building layers onto a structural foundation. This inquisitiveness has become the catalyst to try new mediums—encaustic, lazar tran, photo transfer, etc. Equally it has yielded the opportunity to find out what types of material are compatible with particular processes. Like many artists building a repertoire of skills is a passion but equally is a fascination with building layers of content. This exhibition encapsulates a number of works from several series, Works on Paper, Season’s Journey, A Sense of Place and the newest Quilt Series. Each work may address a distinct span of time or an explicit moment but all encompasses the notion of storytelling.  

Painting for me has always been a solitary activity and never really thought about the parallels my work may have with others until I was asked to join in this exhibition, Art of Collaboration: A Joyous Exchange with Jerry Johnson and Diane Orlofsky. Reflecting I cannot ignore the collaboration my most recent work addresses that began 35 years ago when Grandma Odom and I started building squares to make a quilt (crazy quilt). My goal for this project was to keep Grandma active. She sewed by hand the bits and pieces of fabrics from the family clothes (three generations).  My contribution was to do the embroidered stitching on top. When we began this adventure I only knew how to sew a chain stitch. Today I proudly know how to do 27 different boarder stitches. Grandma Odom passed in 1988 and my mother, Margaret Odom Standridge took up the task of finishing the squares. My mother is now in her 80’s. When I finally put the pieces together to make the Crazy Quilt there were a number of squares left over, consequently the Quilt Series was born. When asked I usually say that my work is about my life, which can sound a little narcissistic. But in truth it is about family and the deeply rooted values passed from generations.