Back to All Events

FLORASONIC: Walter Kitundu 'Careen'

  • Lincoln Park Conservatory 2391 N Stockton Dr. Chicago, IL 60614 (map)
ferns b+w.jpg

Walter Kitundu: Careen

Featuring Douglas R. Ewart

Exhibition Information:
October 13 - December 29, 2019
Daily, 9-5pm

Lincoln Park Conservatory*
2391 North Stockton Drive
Chicago, IL, 60614

Careen (2019)
Walter Kitundu
Featuring Douglas R. Ewart

Careen is derived from a series of improvised scores played by Douglas R. Ewart on sopranino saxophone, cor anglais, and bamboo flute. The improvised scores were played in response to time-lapse imagery of ferns emerging from the soil and wavering upward as their fronds unfurled. The films compressed the growth of the ferns into 60-90 second bursts. At this accelerated rate the plants seem to be exerting great energy as they claimed their space. Mr. Ewart’s powerfully expressive melodic and multiphonic exertions accompanied each fern’s journey upward.

The surrounding ferns are currently growing at a more familiar pace. The brief improvisations still accompany them but have been slowed to match the plants as they grow in real time. One minute expands into several days. The music in Careen is really for the plants and their sense of time, it reflects their patience and pace.

However, it is also offered as an encouragement for the audience to consider time, to consider scale and pace in daily life. When we look back we can see our lives accelerated, when we look forward our sense of time is often compressed. In the present moment there exists the possibility of expansive and attentive awareness.

The shifts in quartet performances are for the plants and are therefore slow in coming. The pace is not quite geologic as there are some concessions to aesthetics and human attention. Regardless, each passing note or shift in timbre is evidence of a breath, of shifting fingers, of immediate and dynamic musical and emotional responses to the growth and arrival of new ferns and the wavering respiration of old plants.

Occasional bird-like tones are entire improvisations compressed into a matter of seconds. They serve as cheerful reminders of what we are all here to do, survive and thrive.

About Walter Kitundu

Walter Kitundu is a multidisciplinary artist who focuses on sculpture and sound installation, public art and teaching. He builds (and performs on) extraordinary musical instruments, while researching and documenting the natural world. Kitundu has created hand-built record players driven by the wind and rain, fire and earthquakes, birds, light, and the force of ocean waves. In 2008 he received a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his practice. 

Kitundu is a visiting professor in the Sound Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, adjunct Professor at Sierra Nevada College, and recently taught in Northwestern University’s Department of Art Theory and Practice.

For more information visit:

About Douglas R. Ewart

Perhaps best known as a composer, improviser, sculptor and maker of masks and instruments, Douglas R. Ewart is also an educator, lecturer, arts organization consultant and all around visionary. In projects done in diverse media throughout an award-winning and widely-acclaimed 40-year career, Mr. Ewart has woven his remarkably broad gifts into a single sensibility that encourages and celebrates--as an antidote to the divisions and compartmentalization afflicting modern life-the wholeness of individuals in culturally active communities.

For more information visit: