, Salem, MA

April 11, 2013

Eliot's 'Four Quartets' inspires collaboration, tour

By Gail McCarthy
Staff writer

---- — WENHAM — Bruce Herman is not alone in his attraction to the work of 20th-century poet T.S. Eliot.

The Gloucester artist was attending a dinner party in New York City four years ago when the conversation turned to a shared fascination and affinity for Eliot’s masterpiece “Four Quartets,” written in 1943 during World War II.

That animated discussion inspired the massive musical and artistic collaboration “QU4RTETS,” named for Eliot’s suite of four poems. Besides Herman, the artistic friends include artist Makoto Fujimura; Yale musician Christopher Theofanidis; and Duke professor, theologian and pianist Jeremy Begbie. They have created artwork and composed music inspired by the poems, and their collaboration is now on tour.

It comes to Gordon College this Saturday, after stops at Baylor, Duke and Yale universities and at Carnegie Hall.

“This is a rare opportunity to work with gifted artists who are also friends in response to one of the 20th century’s greatest poems,” said Herman, an art professor at Gordon College.

“In our collaboration, we are addressing an old painterly tradition: the four seasons and four stages of life, implicit in Eliot’s poem. I’ve tried to interact directly with Eliot’s use of the four elements — earth, air, fire and water — to create a set of meditations on death and resurrection while pointing toward a mysterious fifth element (quintessence).”

Herman described the exhibit as a “communion of art, music, poetry and time.”

Eliot (1888-1965), who was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., has a connection to Cape Ann, having summered on Eastern Point, where his family built a large home. Educated at Milton Academy and then Harvard, he eventually moved to England, where he became a British citizen.

If you go

What: An exhibit of art of music inspired by T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets”

When: Saturday. Public reception with the artists at 4 p.m., followed by discussion and music performances at 5 p.m. The exhibit is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., until May 1.

Where: Gordon College, Wenham, in the Barrington Center for the Arts

Admission: Free