ASU students create multisensory experience for gallery artworks

February 19, 2020

An art exhibition at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts allows patrons to not only view paintings but also hear how those paintings might sound. 

“I hear what you’re seeing” opened in January and will run through April 26. The exhibition features seven visual artworks by six different artists. The artworks were annotated into sound pieces by a group of graduate students in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the School of Music, both part of Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.  Image of Cam Decaussin's artwork next to the student-made sound pieces on a tape recorder Image courtesy of Taylor Kinnerup/KTAR News; painting by Cam DeCaussin Download Full Image

Each graduate student was paired with an artist, working closely together during the creative process. The students were asked to compose a three- to seven-minute sonic piece for their partnered artist’s composition.

One of those sonic artists, PhD student Shomit Barua, said the purpose of the exhibition was to create a multisensory experience. 

“Personally, I met with the artist Cam DeCaussin at his studio where I interviewed him about his process and shared some of my own impressions about his work,” Barua said. “It turned out our influences and aesthetics had a lot of overlap, which explains why I was drawn to his work in the first place. I composed my piece to reflect the tension in the painting, the duality of something both beautiful and unsettling.”

Opening night at the exhibition went well, according to Barua. He described this new expression of creating a multisensory experience in a gallery as “mind-boggling.”

“One of the interesting effects of this show is that patrons spend far more time in front of the paintings than they would otherwise,” he said. “You could almost see them step into the paintings and stroll through the brushstrokes.”

Barua said that the sound artists for this exhibition are currently in the process of collaborating on an extended live performance where the paintings will “converse” with each other. 

In addition to Barua, the featured sound artists include Devin Arne, Laura Brackney, Andrew Robinson, Jacob Smith and Gina Xu. The featured visual artists include Monica Martinez, Lara Plecas, Ellen Wagener and School of Art alumni Laura Spalding Best, Bill Dambrova and Cam DeCaussin.

ASU alumna lets people be a part of the solution

February 19, 2020

Arizona State University alumna Karrin Taylor Robson believes one should always be prepared for when opportunity or responsibility knocks on the door.

That belief was put to the test when she was ready to graduate with a BA in history in 1987 and her friends talked her into running for student body president. The catch was only students can serve, so she decided to stay another year in college. portrait of ASU alumna Karrin Taylor Robson ASU alumna Karrin Taylor Robson Download Full Image

Choosing political science as the major to add was an easy call. Taylor Robson, who grew up in Mesa, Arizona, had a civically engaged family. Her father was first on the board of adjustments and then was in the state legislature, where he served for 16 years.

“It was in my blood,” she said.

Taylor Robson would follow up her undergraduate career with a JD in law from ASU in 1994. She would go on to work in a small law firm where she practiced in the area of land use, development and zoning laws.

When she was in law school, Taylor Robson saw her peers bring their education and life experiences to the law they chose to practice. For her, land use was a natural fit because it is not only local but political.

“I always told people that land use law is really 60% politics and 40% law,” shared Taylor Robson. “It was a way for me to take my education in political science and put it to practice in the legal field.”

After serving as an executive vice president for a local real estate company for more than 10 years, Taylor Robson was ready for a career change. In 2016 she founded Arizona Strategies, a land use strategy team that specializes in adding value to clients’ real estate.

This transition has opened new doors for Taylor Robson. In her legal career, she was always working on the front end of projects before handing them off to developers. In her new role, she is able to pursue being a developer herself and learning all that that entails.

“First of January we started turning dirt on a project in downtown Mesa, so I now have my own real estate development project,” she said. “I hope it is the first of many.”

In June of 2017, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed Taylor Robson to the Arizona Board of Regents, which is responsible for the governance of the state’s three public universities. At the time, no one on the board specialized in real estate, though the three universities own a substantial amount of land.

Taylor Robson shared that she has focused on adding her expertise where she can to add value, and that the knowledge on the board — along with the matters that they must deal with — are astonishing.

During her time on the board, Taylor Robson has focused on civic engagement. That included the inaugural Regents’ Cup in 2019, which is an annual debate competition between Arizona’s three universities designed to encourage mutual respect and civil discourse. The event aims to celebrate free speech while elevating respectful and effective communication.

“If I walked away today, the Regents’ Cup would be the thing that I would want to be remembered for.”

For all of these accomplishments and many more, Taylor Robson will be honored at Founders’ Day on Feb. 25 with the Alumni Achievement Award.

“The people who have received this award in the past I hold in the highest esteem,” shared Taylor Robson. “The professional accomplishments and personal stories are phenomenal, so to be in that group of people is humbling.”

This recognition has created a chance for Taylor Robson to reflect on her time at ASU and the impact it had on her career. She shared that many of her friends from college are now leaders in the community with whom she still works today.

During her first year at ASU, Taylor Robson took a leadership course where her main takeaway was that “people support what they help create.” This idea has fueled her career. According to Taylor Robson, the more you allow stakeholders into your process, the better chance they have at becoming your biggest advocates.

“I allow people to be part of the solution and that was something I learned here,” she said. “It was one of the most important things I learned here. ASU definitely set me on my path.”

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies