The Shape of Art

By Amanda Crowley | Photography by Colleen Duffley

Close your eyes and imagine the soft sound of a bow being drawn slowly across a violin, the notes cascading over one another, blending to create a mellow, somber sound. Then, the bow is forced back and forth rapidly, jumping from one string to another, confident and abrasive in its sound. The vast melodies of a violin parallel its shape from the smooth curves of the bout to the sturdy rigidness of the neck.

Colleen Duffley’s photographic interpretations of ArtStrings emulate the ever-changing sound of a violin—only she uses a camera instead of a bow. With the integral use of lighting, she captures the shape of a violin, highlighting not only the uniqueness of the artist, but that of the violin as well. Duffley’s professional portfolio is copious to say the least—her versatility is displayed through the wide range of pictures she has taken throughout her career for well-known companies such as Neiman Marcus and Carnival Cruise Lines, and a cover image for Better Homes and Gardens. She is the founder of Studio b., a creative venue bringing together the best of the best and up-and-comers in the fields of art, photography, food, wine, words and music, which recently hosted a concert on Wednesday, February 9 featuring Dixie Chick Emily Robinson. Duffley is able to capture what others seem to overlook: the simplistic yet elegantly fluid shape that is a violin, each angle different from the next. When thinking of a violin, you are often able to imagine the sound, yet it is not often you think of its shape. With her artistic eye, Duffley expresses her love for photography by capturing the natural beauty of the violin.

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Sinfonia’s Maestro Demetrius Fuller enlisted the support of local, regional, national, and international visual artists who were each given a violin and the challenge to create a work of art on a musical canvas. These violins were then auctioned off on February 4, 2011, during Sinfonia’s gala event, Celebrating Sinfonia’s Fifth, benefiting the James A. Fuller Memorial Fund for Music Education. VIE, in turn, gave Duffley a challenge of her own: photograph these works of art to showcase the prolific exhibit. Just as Edgar Degas captured the sinuous elegance of a dancer’s body and Pablo Picasso used color and shapes to personify the subjects of his paintings, Duffley captured the sinuous shape and character of each violin. By using light to direct the emphasis and mood, the viewer experiences the photograph in a raw, simplistic manner, forcing the focus to be not only on the art of the violin, but also the shapes that encompass the painting. Just as each violin is rendered in a unique way by the individual artists, with these photographs, Duffley brings a uniqueness all her own.

No two angles are the same. Each picture has a different vantage point, just as each note played on the violin gives a different sound. The combination of shapes and light give personality to each violin. Duffley’s use of light creates a symphony of colors, both warm and cool. More than just canvases, the violins exude deep reds and warm golds, cold whites and light blues, rich browns and somber blacks.

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ArtStrings: A Painted Violin Exhibit is a celebration of the instruments, each artist capturing the different sounds of a violin, with a photographer who captured the violins’ personalities.

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ArtStrings: A Painted Violin Exhibit will run until April 29, 2011, from 12 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays; the exhibit is free and open to the public. All the finished pieces are on display at Grand Boulevard Town Center opposite Mitchell’s Fish Market. All proceeds will benefit the James A. Fuller Memorial Fund for Music Education, an extension of Sinfonia’s music education initiatives throughout the Northwest Florida community. For more information, please visit

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