Andrea Parkins

Andrea Parkins

Faculty on Leave of Absence


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Andrea Parkins is a New York-based sound artist, composer and electro-multi-instrumentalist who also makes/arranges objects and images. Known especially for her dynamic timberal explorations on the electric accordion and inventive use of customized sound processing, she wields a sonic language that is both fractured and fluid – releasing awkward electronic disruptions, concretized sampling and explosive feedback into the rising flow of her electric accordion’s sonority.  Parkins performs internationally as a solo artist, and has collaborated with Nels Cline, Fred Frith, Thomas Lehn, Otomo Yoshihide, and ROVA Saxophone Quartet, among many others. She also creates sound art works, and compositions for solo and ensemble instruments. Her audio works and performances have been presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Kitchen, and Experimental Intermedia, among other contemporary ar/t/multimedia venues, and she has collaborated in this context with sound artists Michael J. Schumacher, Stephen Vitiello, Anne Wellmer, and others. Parkins appears on more than 50 recordings on labels including Hatology, Cryptogramophone, and Atavistic.


MFA in Visual Arts, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University
BFA in Visual Arts, Tufts University
Studio Diploma, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Personal Statement

I am a New York-based composer, sound/installation artist and electro-multi-instrumentalist. My work is deeply rooted in audio/visual and audio/gestural interactivity, and is influenced by post-Cagean compositional strategies, and the poetic and gestural non-materialism of the Fluxus arts movement. As a performer, my tools are electronically-processed accordion, laptop electronics, acoustic piano, and amplified objects; and my visual materials include objects, video, drawing and photographs.

For the past several years, I have been developing a series of interactive sound/image pieces that are inspired by the structures of Rube Goldberg’s circuitous machines, and have been performing these works in both the United States and Europe on an ongoing basis – most recently in May 2008 at the Contemporary Art Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. An important conceptual thread running through these pieces is the discovery and expression of metaphors for the slippage and tension between object and meaning that occurs through the passage of time. As both a sonic and visual artist, I try to build and layer idiosyncratic systems and structures that point to these shifts in meaning.

Other recent projects include the New York premiere this past spring at Roulette Intermedium of ob-jest, the jettisoned: 15 short electronic works for 4 speakers, with a live ensemble featuring Highland bagpipes, cello, amplified objects, and electronically-processed accordion; and the completion of Faulty Objects, an hour-long audio work scored for amplified objects, laptop electronics and accordion feedback. The piece is based on a 10-channel installation work that I presented in New York last year at Diapason Gallery for Sound and Intermedia, and will be released on Important Records in Fall 2008.

One important focus for the past 20 years has been the development of an individual textural and gestural language on my electronically-processed accordion — which I view as an extended instrument. During this time, I have also explored density, gesture and interactivity with a wide range of electronic instruments, sources and processes– analog and digital, including: synthesizers, live tape manipulation, analog effects boxes, Foley, samplers, and generative sound processing. I have also recently been working to extend my performative scope through the design of a series of digital controller sculptures to be used with my customized processing software.

All of these explorations have been – and are currently – greatly augmented by ongoing collaborations with many and diverse sonic colleagues. Of critical importance has been my longtime participation in the vital community of musicians in downtown New York City who are committed to the exploration (together) of a wide range of artistic/improvisational/compositional strategies and expression. As a member of this community, which is by now both local and global, I’ve had the opportunity to develop recording and performance projects with artists who challenge me both conceptually and aesthetically: including guitarist Nels Cline, saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, and bagpiper David Watson; and sound artists Anne Wellmer, Stephen Vitiello and Michael J. Schumacher, among many others.

As an educator, I want to support students’ pursuit and articulation of a personal creative vision, and to facilitate their absorption of the range of materials, processes and resources that are available in order to help them achieve this. This is with the recognition that this may at times seem like a risky endeavor – full of experimental moments of “not knowing,” that may or may not lead to a clear creative outcome – yet is indeed a worthwhile process that can provide a vital sense of agency to any artist.

I have taught music improvisation and composition, sound art, and multi-media performance at the college and graduate school level: conducting workshops, classes and master classes at music and art academies in the United States and Europe, including the Integrated Media Program and Music Department at California Institute for the Arts, Mills College, the University of Michigan Music Department, and the Hochschule fur Musik, Karl Maria von Weber in Dresden, Germany. I have also led workshops at artist-run music improvisation schools and collectives in New York City and in Europe.

My work has been supported by grants from Meet the Composer, American Composers Forum and New York State Council on the Arts; and residencies from Harvestworks Media Art Center, New York City; and the Frei und Hanseastadt Hamburg Kulturbehoerde, Germany.

Website: Artist Page

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