Christina McPhee: Collapsing the Realms


Reading Christina McPhee’s recount of her experiences with producing her paintings is extremely interesting. For her the physical act of being collapses with the works of art she physically creates as well as with the art that she can audibly experience.

McPhee explains that she had always found solace in playing the piano. Music was such a powerful escape for McPhee that she sought to somehow convey her experience with music in a material fashion in order to visually replicate her internal experience for the viewer of her pieces. It is interesting how she collapses the physical and tactile realm of painting with the audible realm of music and the visual realm of viewing a painting. In order to collapse these realms, for McPhee the human body itself becomes an instrument that can translate between the realms of experience through motion.

A line from an article she wrote to accompany her painting for the Ojai Music Festival especially spoke to me as I believe it perfectly captures what McPhee does as an artist, as well as her philosophy behind her works of art. “The body acts as the instrument to translate the code for the kinetic action onto the radiant surface. Just like the piano resonates sound by the striking of keys, so the paintings store and record the memories of the percussive touch.”

In her written piece McPhee also compares the surface of the canvas and the painting to human skin and to the surface of our physical bodies. I think this is interesting because for McPhee, painting has become her medium of choice to convey her internal experiences of listening to music and of playing music. By selecting painting as her medium, she sends the message that the art of painting itself has the capacity to amalgamate physical, audible, and visual experiences. The parallel between painting and the human body thus makes sense, as the human body is also capable of existing in the physical, audible, and visual realms (through tactile existence, the sounds we make, and our physically discernible presence).


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