Think of art composed of sounds and you're almost sure to think of music.
But Stephanie Rowden is interested in audible art that includes music but
goes beyond it. The art of listening (and making art with sound) has always
been, for Stephanie Rowden, connected with the realm of memory and the
imagination. She is continually fascinated by the aural experience and how
vividly we experience a sound of a place or thing despite its physical
absence, conjuring such vivid imagery inside us.
Recently, Rowden came across a description about the nature of listening
versus seeing that stopped her in her tracks: Seeing is light, which moves
much faster than sound: 186,000 miles per second, as opposed to 1,088 feet
per second. To listen, you must slow down and operate at the speed of sound
rather than at the speed of light. In twenty years of making works with
sound Rowden had never considered the medium in quite this way - that perhaps
something in the very nature of sound invites us to pay attention more slowly.
Stephanie Rowden's "sound portraits" are encountered as frames or sculptures
often containing tiny doors instead of pictures. Upon opening the doors, the
visitor hears a poem, a song, a lengthy anecdote. A work specially commissioned
for the exhibition "S.O.S." at The Tang Museum focused on the lives and
stories of the Tang's hometown of Saratoga Springs, offering elusive yet
insightful perspectives on the city's history and culture. Rowden's other
site-related soundworks include installations in a museum portrait gallery
at The Brooklyn Museum, the vaults under the Brooklyn Bridge shown at Art in
the Anchorage, and a vaudeville-era silent movie-house lobby displayed at The
Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. She has had residencies at the Ragdale Foundation
and the MacDowell Colony and is a recipient of a Mid-Atlantic Arts
Alliance/National Endowment for the Arts Sculpture Fellowship. Her work is
regularly featured at Littlejohn Contemporary.