So there I was, in Miller PAC, wandering around with my camera, and Yorick safely stowed away in his case. The walls, white and sterile around me, rubber-soled sneakers padding against the black, tiled floor like rain onto a sidewalk. It was one of those days from last week with the weather sad and dreary out the window (why sad, I don’t know… those overcast days have always secretly been my favorites), and the lighting indoors was cold, uninviting and unfamiliar. However, turning to look into the empty (surprise, surprise) dance studio, off to one side rested a closet, door propped open and lights on within, though there was no trace of human existence, other than myself. The closet itself was not extraordinary, but within, I saw row upon row of beautiful, glossy stringed instruments. Not a one missing, not a one out of place; no fingerprints, no chips, no worn-out varnish. Why, oh, why, were these instruments just sitting there? There was even a case, left on its side, whose coat of dust would be thick enough to protect against a blizzard. It was heartbreaking. And suddenly, the closet was not a closet at all, but a display case. Rather than a door, there may as well have been a glass panel.
It took me a while to connect this closet, so melancholy and silent in a school of music and performing arts, to the recent homework assignment of creating an installation piece to represent a part of our assigned building. What part of Miller did I want to represent? Modern architecture? Sleek design? A stage, a curtain? No. A silent instrument. An instrument that is not at all an instrument–a cello that is not at all a cello–for it cannot produce a sound.
With that in mind, I set to work, looking up correct dimensions for a cello (fun fact: the two sections where the body bows out are known as the “shoulders” and the “hips”), studying its shape (although, no, I did not achieve a curved back, seeing as it was entirely cardboard, and I am neither engineer nor architect). After hours of measuring, sketching, slicing, gluing, and, finally, painting it that same, sterile white that resides within every surface of Miller PAC, I had made my very own soundless cello.
As an endnote, I’d like to add that this isn’t a commentary on Miller as a whole, nor is it a commentary on Miller’s students. As I mentioned over the weekend, music is, indeed, alive and well at Miller. I visited last night and was greeted by a brassy, booming orchestral rendition of “Itty Bitty Pretty One” while I sat journaling in a stairwell. My “Cello” merely represents that one closet of Miller, the Closet of the Silent String Section.