What happens when two distant realms, classical performance and painting meet? What must be let go of in order to reveal something new? In this thesis, Eel Howell explores the ramifications of such an exchange. Having spent the majority of their life training as a classical pianist in the western european tradition, the past few years developing a process of creativity have been a complete 180° from their experience in music school. The outcome, THERE IS ALWAYS FAINT STATIC IN THE AIR, is the culmination of ruminations, revelations, and a self-identification as an anti-disciplinary artist. Documentation provides an access point to the relationships between Eel, the instruments, and the piano. The instruments, made from painting materials are friends and collaborators, no longer stuck in the flattened role of “art object”. Depending on their ability and form, a name for each instrument is given with great care and consideration. Anthropomorphizing the instruments brings new possibilities, as there is already a great amount of precedent of what happens when art is not anthropomorphized. Eel relates to the instruments as one would relate to fellow performers in a performance; this brings into question how we as artists relate to our capacities and what it looks like to bring others in to help us achieve what we cannot on our own. THERE IS ALWAYS FAINT STATIC IN THE AIR is the direct result of doing exactly what you are not supposed to do as a classically trained western european pianist.
Eel Howell is an artist who used to be a musician and a musician who turned into an artist. Eel’s work can be seen manifesting in a variety of mediums, yet not lying satisfyingly in any. Elevating this tension of breaking expectations with mediums is a highlight for Eel in their practice. They investigate the boundaries supposedly delineating one medium from the next. Intuition and learned skills help them navigate this space of experimentation. Undoing learned expectations surrounding mediums and fields of study brings them to consider new combinations that are only possible through collaborations across mediums. In their practice, they rely heavily on intuition to lead them across the boundaries between artistic mediums into new realms of creativity.
Developing an ethos regarding creativity in this way creates a unique and embodied experience that honors Eel’s personal capacities to create and make. Eel sees this ethos facilitating future collaborations between mediums, artists, and participants in the least expected of places in the most fulfilling of ways. New ways of being in and with their creative practice is an urgent matter to Eel, as a greater awareness of how our creative practices can deplete and extract our energy is needed