Artist Christina Eve has synesthesia, a rare neurological condition that entwines the senses. In Christina Eve's case, she sees sounds. Last year she sent me a handful of her colorful paintings she made based on music she heard and the visions she had when she listened. I was so fascinated by the way she interprets songs with imagery that I asked her to document the process. You can watch her paint the music of Moses Sumney and Bleachers in the videos below and read her describe what her brain is like on music. – All Songs Considered's Bob Boilen
I'd never be a visual artist if I was not first a musician. I have a deep love of music and especially love how a good song can arrest your heart or communicate things for which there are no words. I began studying music as a child and went on to get a degree in classical music. I geek-out over music theory and love the thrill of performing on stage with other musicians. Yet beyond all this, I experience another dimension of music that most do not.
I have synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that involuntarily merges senses in the brain. Auditory stimuli activate my visual sense, so whenever I hear sound I see a unique light and color show. Listening to music is always a remarkable experience as the ears, eyes, heart, and mind are all inundated. For me, music reveals shimmering lights and geometric textures in bright colors, and light and dark swell and spin around each other.
As a synesthetic visual artist, I translate what I hear into visible form so others can see the beauty of sound. My artwork begins with a song I've fallen in love with, emotionally, aurally, and visually. In the studio, I put the song on loop and listen and watch to see what shapes and colors appear. I pull out corresponding bottles of ink and begin spilling them on the canvas. I blow air into the color, creating a contrasting lightness to the dark, and form the ink into shapes with palette knives and sponges.