CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — An upcoming performance on the University of Illinois campus will feature music from instruments that might be made from hockey sticks, snow shovels or an assemblage of coat hangers.
The Sonified Sustainability Festival will celebrate sustainable practices in the arts with a concert by musicians playing instruments made from recycled or repurposed materials. The festival, from 1 to 5 p.m. April 16 in the lobby at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, leads up to Earth Week, and is free and open to the public.
"I am thrilled that the Sonified Sustainability Festival is the first event of its kind funded by the Student Sustainability Committee. This unique festival not only showcases artists who utilize sustainable practices in their work, but creatively brings awareness to the community of organizations and programs working toward a sustainable future,” said Jason Finkelman, the director of Global Arts Performance Initiatives, who produced the festival.
Its featured artist is Ken Butler, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based artist and musician who makes hybrid musical instruments based on the idea of bricolage – using whatever materials are at hand. Among the materials he’s used are a clock and a cowboy boot, a bicycle seat and a broom, a cow skull, a swim fin and a flashlight.
“Ken Butler's work is a perfect example of how things we discard can become provocative pieces of art and musical instruments that bring joy to our world. I expect folks who experience his exhibition and his concert will leave inspired," Finkelman said.
Butler plays original music influenced by Indian raga, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern music, as well as rock, jazz, blues and funk. His New York City-based ensemble features Melvin Gibbs on electric bass and Vin Scialla on drums and percussion.
Butler’s creations are both musical instruments and sculptural objects. An exhibition at the Illini Union Art Gallery, “Hybrid Visions,” will feature Butler’s hybrid musical instrument sculptures. The exhibition opening is 4:30 p.m. April 14 and the exhibition goes through May 1.
Butler works with the detritus of contemporary urban life to “further dismantle and reassemble the consumer society into functional assemblages in the form of musical instrument/objects, then coax them to sing for their supper,” he said in his artist statement.
Finkelman and local musician Chad Dunn will perform as Berimbau Bandit and the Caxixikid, a percussion duo playing Brazilian and African instruments made from recycled materials.
Tony Taylor of Potomac will play the handcrafted instruments he makes through his business, Ascendent Instruments. Taylor makes guitars, banjos and other stringed instruments from cigar boxes and other found materials.
The Sonified Sustainability Festival also includes interactive, sustainable art-making and an information fair featuring local projects and organizations working toward a sustainable future. The festival is presented by Global Arts Performance Initiatives and supported by the Student Sustainability Committee.