VMFA presents two immersive sound works by painter and sound artist Jennie C. Jones. Working at the intersection of the visual and sonic arts for nearly two decades, Jones has mined the idea of “listening as a conceptual practice.” Jones has created immersive environments using sound and has created a series of sculptures, works on paper, and paintings that she calls “Acoustic Panel Paintings.”
This immersive installation at VMFA features two sound works. The first composition, High as the Listening Skies, features three gospel choirs from Houston, Los Angeles, and Baltimore, performing the song “A City Called Heaven.” The song was popularized by gospel icon and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson. The second featured work, The Edges of Heaven, Rest, is primarily tonal and associated with the concept of music as having healing energy. Jones layers audio samples—effectively collaging composition from Black composer Alvin Singleton.
The two works, which can be experienced together in the chapel located on the museum’s grounds, create a striking balance between the crescendo of a spiritual ecstatic and a meditative calm. Interwoven, they emit a sonic framing that bridges the physical world to the ethereal realm, offering the transcendent and transformational possibilities of sound.