Fall 2009

Science Meets Seuss: A Union of Function and Form

By Hilary Knecht

Upon entering the Natalie Miebach’s Sculptural Musical Scores exhibit in the Schick Art Gallery, the viewer is struck by a wave of bright colors and complicated sculptures. At first glance the Dr. Seuss-like structures appear confusing, yet elaborate and well planned out. After reading the statement by the artist, one learns that the artist’s intention is to intersect art, music, and meteorology. Miebachcollects weather data from specific cities, has musicians translate this data into musical compositions, which she then interprets into sculpture. This complex process is reflected by the intricacy of her work.

Using mostly primary and secondary colors, Miebach’s Sculptural Musical Scores seems child-like at first. However, after the viewer gains an understanding of how Miebach, literally, weaves together multiple mediums to create sculptures revealing musical scores that can actually be played, a deeper reading emerges. Miebach’s sculptures are composed mostly of reed, metal, wood, and data. Different colors symbolize different aspects of weather: green for barometric pressure, red for temperature, and orange for humidity. Each sculpture represents a single night or weather pattern. Together, the elements tell the story of weather patterns over a period of time (the time can range from two months to 50 years).

The pieces appear uniform in colors and medium. The three sculptures near the wall and the sculptures that protrude from the wall are all part of a larger piece entitled Urban Weather Prairies- Symphonic Studies in D. Miebach links these disparate structures with a red reed with semi-circles extending from it. This reed trails along the floor, around two sculptures, and up the wall. The reed is mirrored on the wall by a blue reed with triangles. The use of geometric shapes offers some simplicity within a complicated structure.

Texts, such as “humidity,” N, SW, E, are written in pencil and pen on the wall and all over the sculptures. This is part of the data Miebach has collected. Although most viewers are unable to comprehend how to play the music by looking at the sculpture or how to understand the weather patterns, the interdisciplinary sculptures are still aesthetically pleasing.

On the other side of the gallery are three stands: two with CD players and one with a composition book of the score that you can follow as you listen to the music. This provides for a multi-media exhibit and also attracts a wide range of viewers. This also makes the art more effective by actually enabling the visitor to hear what had been translated from the weather patterns.

Overall, Miebach’s Sculptural Musical Scores, on display from July 7 to October 4, is an engaging and thought-provoking exhibit. The intricate sculptures are made somewhat less chaotic by the simple colors and materials. The intriguing process that Miebach went through in order to construct these sculptures added layers of complexity to the visitor’s thoughts while experiencing the exhibit.