Drawing a Riff
POSTED ON: October 22, 2021
Watch (and listen to) trumpet player Antoine Drye riff on work by art students in Katie Merz’s Drawing 1 class. Merz, an adjunct professor who also graduated from the School of Art in 1984, asks the sophomores and juniors in her class to reconsider their work beyond a two-dimensional object on the wall. The course aims to help students develop drawing skills and techniques while exploring how the medium is a fundamental visual language for all disciplines.
Hosting a variety of studio guests like Drye introduces different ways drawing can help inform other media and invites students to investigate their work creatively—all while pushing the boundaries of drawing. Professor Merz began the semester with weekly prompts—from producing work from parks and NYC streets to this week’s prompt asking students to make a piece that Drye can play—before students are asked to produce independent work.
“Last year we did this through Zoom, but this year they are actually here together, and it has impacted their practice in such a buoyant way,” says Professor Merz. “They are seeing how art can be collaborative and multidisciplinary.”
Professor Merz notes that students presented a variety of work, from an actual written musical composition to an entirely vertical drawing. Drye spent time with each student and shared the emotion and feeling their drawings inspired. One piece, Drye said, brought to mind the experience of flight, so he broke into a work by Thelonious Monk; another piece, which was full of bright colors, inspired a performance of Miles Davis.
“It was exciting to see Drye at work with the students, questioning them about their particular choices to inform his own freeform performance, and see them building this accidental collaboration,” Merz says. Next up: a 45-minute movement class.