Midtown Raleigh News

Artist pays homage to work of Alice Coltrane, explores transcendence through sound

Artist Lincoln Hancock
Artist Lincoln Hancock Benjamin Spiker

The sight of a vintage harp case in a downtown Raleigh antiques store came with a flicker of an idea for artist Lincoln Hancock.

Hancock, an admirer of musician Alice Coltrane, thought the case had the potential to become part of a piece that would pay homage to the late Coltrane, a pianist, organist, harpist and composer.

He considered a sculpture but eventually decided to create an entire environment, one where light, sound, color, and the levitating harp case would immerse the visitor in a meditation on Coltrane.

“It’s about the possibility of reaching beyond, finding bliss and transcendence through sound,” he said.

The resulting piece, “Journey in Turiya,” opens at the Visual Art Exchange’s Cube Gallery this Friday, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Coltrane, who was married to jazz legend John Coltrane, continued to push musical boundaries well after his death through jazz, blues, chanting, string compositions and more. She also was known for her spiritual exploration, including founding an ashram in California. She became known by the name Turiya and then Turiyasangitananda.

“The more I learn about her, the more fascinated I am,” said Hancock, who also plays bass guitar in the band Heads on Sticks. “The music’s unbelievable, but she’s also a relevant figure, and I regard her as a guru.”

Hancock, who lives in Raleigh, also is part of a broader organization called SiteWork that has a mission of supporting noncommercial contemporary art, things like performances, video work or installations, which are not easily sold.

During the Hopscotch music festival this week, the organization will present SiteWork/Hopscotch, a series of seven exhibits, including Hancock’s. All of the pieces were created by visual artists who also are musicians or by artists working with sound or music-related ideas.

Hancock said that he thinks the experience of creating visual art and music are closely related; in both cases, he’s striving to communicate without words.

“I’m interested in just getting in touch with that immediate experience,” he said.