Art is a universal connector. I am a maker. My practice is informed by the rhizomal effect, which is a scientific term that illustrates the phenomena of interconnection. Powerful art reverberates from consciousness to the artist to the individual to the community to the world. Art gives visceral substance to ideas and to the non-material strivings of the soul. Boulder, a community of progressive hearts and minds has been the home of my journey as an artist/activist. Over 30 years as a Boulder resident, I have witnessed the consciousness of a community evolving and the art that followed, inspired and exemplified that expansion. My work has been an expression of this process. Now, more than ever, we are united in our vulnerability. Our survival depends on our passionate commitment to wake up and realize that we ALL exist together on this mysterious planet spinning through space with its delicate oceans, unique ecosystems and diverse people. With the stresses and concerns of everyday life, the current political climate, the precarious state of the environment, the inequities of this world, it is easy to forget the power of the one to impact the many. The hundredth monkey
Ever since I can remember, music has always been my true calling because it is something that I don’t have to make myself do, a never-ending drive to become a better musician. I work hard because I picture where I could be if I keep playing and playing. I noticed that when I visualize the goal, I can plug into a zone where time flows and I have no concept of how much time goes by.
When I am on stage, I have an entirely different experience. I become my best self. The initial adrenaline rush transforms into a euphoric sense of freedom. Performing is the height of being able to share the feeling, the experience of the music and especially of being the one who is giving that experience to other people. Then afterwards, you can recognize that you were able to unleash a powerful experience in others that originally came from inside of you! This reinforces to me the idea that music or art is the ultimate way to connect to others. Even if each response or experience might not be the same as your original intent, say the meaning of a song, if it’s quality art, then it is transmittable between everyone. If it makes you think and feel, then that’s all you need and that’s amazing. When I think about what I want to do with my life, I can’t think of anything else that I would love to do as much as write and play music. I have tried other things, but nothing even remotely compares.
Recently, I traveled around Europe with my guitar. I saw first hand, whether it was playing with street musicians in Italy or in pubs in England, that music IS a universal language, one that I know how to speak! No matter where I went, I was able to connect with people through my ability to play music. When I went to Bilbao, I had an interesting experience walking through a Richard Serra sculpture. Suddenly, I thought that his sculpture was a piece about sound! Walking through it, I could hear the various ways that the sounds reverberated inside the sculpture and I realized that there is a connection between all art forms. Even though he is a visual artist, his work became about being aware of other senses besides vision. I think that when you are literally tuned into the world through your senses, after awhile you can experience all the senses coming alive together. So, as a musician, I might be able to hear a visual work of art in the same way that I use my imagination to see images when I play music. All of the senses we have as humans can expand whatever art form we choose to participate in.
The hardest part about music that I constantly come back to is the self-doubt. What if I am not able to express my creativity through music? It makes me absolutely terrified because I know first hand all the beautiful things that come from being able to create music. The fear of not being able to create the music I feel inside is something that drives me to never give up. Though it may seem like a undesirable quality, this “weakness” becomes my greatest strength because I have a visceral knowledge inside me of what it would feel like to miss out on the experience that is music, the infinite possibility that comes blasting out through the tips of my fingers.
Besides connecting to others by playing for them, an important element for me is to have a tribe of fellow musicians to create with. To be able to collaborate and bounce ideas off like-minded people and to find a sense of belonging with artists who share my passion would be a dream come true. I think BIMM is the perfect place for me to grow in new ways with others.
I really want my music to be as real as it can possibly be, which for me means connecting to my authentic voice. I have an inner sense of creative integrity that shines out when I am able to express myself through music. For this, I am on a quest to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible to further myself as a musician. The more I learn, the more I am on the path towards my own unique musical voice and the more I have to share and give to others.
Thomas Cole Perry