A Red Potato in A Minor: New Soul Studio Exhibition

Abstract artworks will hang from the ceilings and extend off the walls at the Friendship Circle Farber Center in West Bloomfield during the newest Dresner Foundation Soul Studio exhibition titled A Red Potato in A Minor. The show opens Thursday, Aug. 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and runs through November 9, featuring the work of Soul Studio artists with special needs. Visitors can expect to step into another world.

By Jonathan Barnett


“It’s going to be a memorable experience,” says Exhibitions & Program Manager Anthony Marcellini. “The paintings, sculptures and other works featured in this exhibition will explore the complexity of abstract expression and how artists communicate their world through that lens.”

“At Soul Studio, many of our artists use abstract art to convey emotions and sensations,” Marcellini explains. “It’s a way to represent their experience, which can sometimes get lost in common forms of communication.”

Synesthesia, a sensorial phenomenon, is the inspiration for the show. It is a stimulation of one sense that leads to an automatic, involuntary stimulation of another. In other words, the pathways of individual sensations become crossed. A person may “feel” a color, “smell” a sound, or “taste” a note.

By Dylan Somberg


Several artists at Soul Studio have some form of synesthesia and the title for the show is an innovative quote from one of them. Sam Morris is a participating artist with perfect auditory pitch. He translates visual colors and textures into notes and tones. When he’s presented with a red potato, Sam says he hears the musical note A minor. When asked if A minor can be purple, he adamantly replies, “No, it is red; it has to be red.” Synesthesia, like all life experiences, is never perceived exactly the same way by everyone. Sam may register A minor as red, while others may see canary yellow; it is a completely individualized perception.

Visual abstraction is like Sam sensing “a red potato in A minor.” The statement is non-linear and abides by a different system of logic, but speaks directly to an individual’s sensual lived experience. Abstract art parallels synesthesia in that stories, memories, and emotions are not represented directly. Memories of sadness may be expressed in blue washes of color, or a birthday party might be represented by orange with yellow and pink circles. For the viewer, abstract art triggers an experience that may be completely different from the one that inspired the artist.

Like synesthesia, the experience abstraction evokes is different for everyone and may not be quick or easy to communicate. Abstraction requires the viewer to slow down, meet it halfway, and to listen, smell, or feel, in an uncertain space where meaning is driven by sensation and emotion.

By Alyssa Gold


WHEN: Friday, August 17 – Friday, November 9, 2018
*Opening Night is Thursday, August 16, 6-8pm (Soul Cafe will be open from 5-8pm)

WHERE: 5586 Drake Road, West Bloomfield, MI

Soul Studio is a project of Friendship Circle of Michigan. Artists receive 40% of the proceeds from the sale of their work. Learn more: friendshipcircle.org/soul

Featured image by Megan Donley

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