Saturday, July 31, 2010


From August 22nd – October 27th I will be traveling in Spain and France as part of my sabbatical from Prescott College. The first five weeks of the trip will be spent in Granada, Spain where I will be doing small preparatory paintings for Arrangement for a Silent Orchestra, followed by museum visits in Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona and Paris. I will post works in-progress in September, please check back soon for updates.

The Burn

From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the pile was documented through video and still photography. At nightfall a single violin was ignited, and the pile was soon engulfed in flames. The phases of the violins’ destruction will serve as the reference imagery for a series of paintings and accompanying video. I plan to produce several large-scale oil paintings depicting the pile of violins in various stages: at dusk, the pile of intact violins illuminated by the setting sun; at nightfall, the pile of violins ablaze; and at dawn, the charred remains. The video documents the duration of the violins’ incineration from dusk to dawn, time-lapsed to one hour.

Photo credit: M. Jennifer Chandler, copyright Julie Comnick 2010

The Site

In mid-May, on one of the few spring days with calm winds before seasonal fire restrictions went into effect, I assembled the pile of worn instruments in a forest clearing near my home in Prescott, AZ. I chose the location because it had been the site of a prescribed burn in 2009, and the mountaintop clearing received direct sunlight at both sunset and sunrise.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Instruments

Beginning in September 2009, I contacted violin shops nationwide soliciting damaged, incomplete, or irreparable violins. Over the next eight months I acquired instruments from thirteen states, totaling nearly one hundred violins.

Thank you to the following individuals and businesses for generously donating instruments to this project: The Fiddle Doctor, Prescott, AZ; John Kelly, Lexington, VA; Valley of the Suns Violins, Phoenix, AZ; Blackerby Violin Shop, Dallas, TX; Brook Mays Music/H&H Music, Dallas, TX; Lee Dale Nigh, Fulton, MO; J.R. Judd Violins, Williamsport, PA; Strings and Other Things, New York, NY; Bishofberger Violins Ltd., Seattle, WA; Claire Givens Violins, Minneapolis, MN; Ute Brinkmann, Wallingford, CT; Long Island Violin Shop, New York, NY; A Violin Maker’s Workshop, Cincinnati, OH.

Project Overview

Arrangement for a Silent Orchestra is a painting and video project which explores the gradual dissolution of culture in contemporary society through the symbolic ruin of a personal and cultural icon, the violin. Using the violin as a metaphor, I intend to raise questions about the relationship between increasing technology and diminishing cultural heritage. I invite the audience to consider what makes the instrument precious in his or her own experience, and the impact of its loss.

This project is currently in-progress, and this blog serves as a venue for project updates. For a detailed description of the project along with my personal goals and objectives, please read the statement of plans on the project page of my website: