Monday, September 17, 2012

Smelly Me

What a fantastic challenge Diane!
The first thing I thought of was a show called Synesthesia that was at our art museum a couple of years ago.  Synesthesia

It was mind boggling to learn about perceiving things through different senses- here's a piece by Arthur Garfield Dove called Fog Horns-

Doesn't it LOOK exactly the way they SOUND?

One of the reasons the show was interesting to me is that I don't have synesthesia at all- things look the way they look, sound the way they sound, and smell like themselves, and my mind just doesn't volunteer to translate them different ways.

Smells, though, do have a Proustian effect on me.  Since I've been working in art studios since I was a little kid, taking summer and Saturday classes, the smell of turpentine and linseed oil takes me right back.  I flash on to the steel and glass exterior of the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.  It brings up a complex set of feelings, the terror of having to take a train alone into the city mixed with the excitement of learning new ways to express myself.

If I wasn't in class, I was with horses.  I grew up riding in the hunt country of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and as soon as I could drive began working at the racetrack with the Thoroughbreds.  Here's a little sketch from back in the day-

To me, they smell great,  but my artwork reflects conflicting emotions- a great love for them, mixed with a sense of loss.  It's not something I have been able to do in my adult life, but I do have some wonderful memories.

Thanks for the challenge Diane, it will be very interesting to see what everyone comes up with.


  1. I love the fog horns piece. Yes, they DO look just like they sound! It would be interesting to see how your memories of horses compare, now vs. childhood. Can't wait to see the challenge 4 gallery!

  2. It wasn't until I was writing my own response that the fog horns really clicked - the looking like they sound part.....and they really do. I was wondering about making something that could conjure a smell visually.....I've got it working the other way, smell=visual. It will be an interesting gallery!