A strange thing happened to me recently, I was introduced to someone in conversation as a “composer” and immediately, I felt an oppressive set of walls rapidly closing in on my soul. I felt artistically constrained by the meaning of the word “composer” but moreover I felt that in assigning this label to my person, that I was betraying the other parts of my creative self. I’ve always had my hand in a lot of different media and each one has brought me a sense of centeredness.
Pianist. Toy Pianist. Author. Composer. Engineer. Lecturer. Non-Profit Administrator. Arts Entrepreneur. The list has been growing rapidly and it still doesn’t feel like an accurate representation of who I am as a woman, let alone as an artist. We live in a world where “branding” is a reality due to an increasingly commercialized society, which creates a problematic situation whereby I have to create a definition for my body of work. For the past several months, I have been turning over ideas of a group of words that would succinctly describe my current place artistically, but would afford enough flexibility in meaning that I would not feel the dark foreboding walls surrounding me for quite some time, if ever again.
I thought about calling myself a “multimedia artist” but that rings with so many connotations of a visual body of work, particularly a digital media portfolio, that I wrestled for weeks with trying to accept the term. Eventually, an epiphany… New Renaissance Artist!
The word renaissance as most adults may recall from grade school history class, signals rebirth and revival. Historically, the term Renaissance has referred to people who were well versed in a vast array of subjects including art, philosophy, science, and literature. As an artist and personally, I feel as though I am constantly going through a revival, a transformation, and a rebirth. I’m always looking to push myself further in my sonic practice but along the way I become fascinated with other subjects that I may or may not have studied previously. I return to old subjects with a new outlook. Infamously, one of my mentors declared “…most people change their molecules every seven years. Elizabeth changes her molecules every seven months.” While Renaissance may conjure images of dusty Renaissance fairs, with people in ornate costumes and giant turkey legs, my purpose in prefacing Renaissance with New, is to signal that we are and I am in a place for a fresh look at revival. There have been many other Renaissance periods, including the Harlem Renaissance (which as an African-American woman, I can identify deeply with from an artistic standpoint.), but my purpose is to embrace the term away from geographical or chronological prejudice. I am a New Renaissance Artist. I embrace a constant stream of change and rebirth in my practice, which expands into a variety of media, chiefly an exploration of how the sonic world can be manipulated to personify a variety of philosophies and principles both tangible as well as intangible.
A change is coming and by the end of the 2016, I hope to have fully integrated this new description of myself. I am now asking anyone seeking to speak or write, about me with the new identification of New Renaissance Artist. I’ve kept this secret for several weeks, as I wanted to be sure that this was the right course of action. I can safely say that the change has been immediate. I feel open to new possibilities. The walls have come crashing down, and a forest of vibrant colors surrounds me with new places waiting to be explored. A fresh spring breeze encircles me, and I feel as though I can finally breathe artistically.
Elizabeth A. Baker – New Renaissance Artist