Tech professor on quest to inspire art with sound

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Sarah Grieger, Hancock High School art teacher (standing) joins her students last Tuesday in listening to MTU professor Christopher Plummer’s presentation on sound and soundscapes.

HANCOCK — Hancock High School art students are getting the opportunity to think outside the artistic box and create visual art inspired by soundscapes created by Christopher Plummer. Plummer, a Michigan Tech professor of visual and performing arts, spent a number of years recording the sounds of the area’s national parks.

From those recordings, the sounds of the parks were then set to orchestral music, which then integrated the sounds of the parks. He refers to these as soundscapes.

His intention now is to visit various schools and use the soundscapes to inspire art students to create visual arts based on what they hear in the recordings.

“Chris Plummer has a traveling art exhibit and he’s got a larger version of it,” said Sarah Grieger, art teacher at Hancock High School. “I think it was at the Rozsa Center.”

Grieger said Plummer has brought his soundscapes presentation to the Dollar Bay High School, as well to Houghton, and last week, he presented it at Hancock.

“He’s currently showing it amongst the art classes here,” Grieger said, “and he’s going to have a show of student artwork at the Rozsa that is inspired by the sounds of Lake Superior, and the soundscapes that he’s made.”

Grieger said she enjoys Plummer’s artistic creation in the soundscapes.

“They’re kind of cool,” she said. “In my other class, we listened to music that was inspired by the Apostle Islands, and he’s put together these compositions that are made out of recordings of the lake and the surrounding areas. Birds singing, and boats, and frogs, and other sounds.”

Grieger said the visual art produced by the students will be shown at the Rozsa Center in early December.