CMU student blends ceramics and percussion in unique performance and exhibition

Central Michigan University's School of Music is set to host a groundbreaking performance titled "Echos in Clay" on April 14, at 1 p.m., featuring Melissa Navarre, a talented Bachelor of Fine Arts student with a concentration in studio art and a minor in music for percussion. Navarre, who is also a member of the CMU percussion ensemble, has ingeniously crafted a series of ceramic percussion instruments for a special program of percussion literature, performed alongside fellow musicians from the percussion studio. The recital, which combines two of Navarre's passions, will take place at the Chamichian Recital Hall and will be live-streamed on YouTube for art and music enthusiasts worldwide.

This unique performance is an extension of Navarre's BFA senior exhibition, showcasing her innovative exploration of the symbiotic relationship between ceramics and music. Following the performance, the ceramic instruments will be displayed at the University Art Gallery from April 19 through May 4. Navarre is also scheduled to present an artist talk on April 20, at 1:30 p.m., during the gallery opening reception. She will delve into her artistic influences, processes, and methods, offering attendees a deeper understanding of her creative journey and the connection between these two ancient art forms.

A picture of CMU student Melissa Navarre holding two ceramic percussion instruments she created
Melissa Navarre and two of her ceramic drums.

Navarre's project is not only a creative endeavor but also an academic research exploration into the relationship between clay and sound. "I have enjoyed exploring the connection between ceramics and music because they are two ancient art forms that have brought people together for centuries," Navarre stated, highlighting the communal and historical significance of her work.

Her exceptional contributions to the field of ceramics have been recognized with the prestigious Regina Brown Undergraduate Fellowship by the National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). This esteemed award, granted to only two recipients nationwide, provides funding for undergraduate research projects in ceramics, underscoring the innovative and impactful nature of Navarre's work.

In preparation for her project, Navarre collaborated with BFA mentor Israel Davis in several ceramic drum-making workshops at CMU, the Oxbow School of Art and Artist Residencies. Furthermore, her work and research were presented at the 2024 NCECA conference in Richmond, Virginia, showcasing her achievements to a broader audience in the ceramic arts community.

"Echos in Clay" not only marks the culmination of Navarre's undergraduate studies but also represents a significant contribution to the interdisciplinary fields of art and music. Her work invites audiences to experience the harmonious blend of visual art and sound, encouraging a deeper appreciation for the ways in which these forms of expression can intersect and enrich our cultural landscape.

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