Recent Hobart graduate James Secor ’10 is combining his painting skills with his kora playing skills to present his newest installment, “Senegal-France-Syracuse,” through Friday, Sept. 30 at the Westcott Community Art Gallery in Syracuse, N.Y.
The exhibition combines the experience of viewing Secor’s expressive paintings while listening to his music, a harmony of influences from around the world. A live kora performance will be followed by an artwork discussion on Thursday, Sept. 15, from 5 to 7 p.m.
The paintings reflect the visuals of a tiny French village, using a combination of both Secor’s old and new painting skills. The songs that accompany these paintings were written during his time in France, but ironically enough the lyrics were mostly written in English.
“I missed English and the fluidity of expression that I have in our language,” says Secor. “Therefore, while some songs were written in French or Wolof (Senegalese language), many are in English.”
The kora is a traditional West African instrument, very similar to a harp. When played, however, it can resemble guitar sounds with a hint of Flamenco style. The paintings in the exhibition come directly from the scenery that Secor was observing, while many of the songs were influenced by events in his past.
While at Hobart, Secor majored in French and Francophone studies, with minors in studio art and music; he graduated summa cum laude and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He notes his most rewarding experience during his four years came from an Honors project in painting with Professor of Art Michael Bogin; Professor of Music Robert Cowles, the director of the chorale, helped to mold his mind musically, allowing him to write harmonies.
“Harmonies are an effective way for me to create a unique sound: the mix of kora and two-part harmony often comes into my music,” says Secor.
The exhibition is open to the public and will be held at the Westcott Community Art Gallery on the second floor of 826 Euclid Avenue in Syracuse. Gallery hours are from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. Secor’s event is open to the public free of charge.