Synesthesia in Art, artists Carol Steen, Marcia Smilack and Anne Salz
Carol Steen experiences multiple forms of synesthesia, including grapheme → color synesthesia, music → color synesthesia, and touch → color synesthesia. She most often uses her music → color synesthesia and touch → color synesthesia in creating her works of art, which often involves attempting to capture, select, and transmit her synesthetic experiences into her paintings. Steen describes how her synesthetic experience during an acupuncture session lead to the creation of the painting Vision.
“I taught myself to take pictures by shooting whenever I experience a synesthetic reaction to what I see: if I experience a sensation of texture, motion or taste, I take the picture. If the reflection elicits the sound of cello, I shoot the picture. I photograph reflections on moving water. It works like this: I watch the surface of the sea until I experience one of my synesthetic responses. When I do, I trust it to be a reliable signal that tells me it is the right time to take the picture, so I click the shutter. Within the creative process, I think of my synesthetic responses as vital messengers that arrive faster than thought to deliver one urgent message which I always heed: beauty is lurking.”
– Reflectionist Marcia Smilack on her photography technique
“The painting represents the opening of the concerto for four violins. I listen to the music while I paint. First, the music gives me an optimistic, happy feeling and I perceive red, yellow, and orange colors in a great variety with little contrast. It looks like a field of these colors. I perceive the color field as a musical chord. You can compare it with the colors of a blanket or cover made of autumn leaves……The lively movements in the music become a stream of glowing shades of orange. The black structure provides cadence and reveals its significance and character. It is an indispensable foundation for the moving colors. The painting evokes my feelings again when I listen to the music again. I hear the melodies in my mind when I look at it.”