The Fine Arts Gallery reopens its doors this fall with “Dream for Light Years”

The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery is pleased to (finally!) present Dream for Light Years, a two-year collaboration between California-based painter Ali Smith and Blair School of Music professor of composition Michael Alec Rose.

In 2008, Rose emailed Smith to ask if he could create a suite of music responding to her vibrant and multilayered paintings. This began an ongoing correspondence between artist and musician, culminating in an exhibition of fourteen paintings and one musical composition—titled “Dream for Light Years” after Smith’s eponymous painting.

In lieu of a live gallery performance, John Warren—film artist and lecturer in the Vanderbilt Department of Art—has produced a film of Rose’s score performed in situ by distinguished faculty of the Blair School of music: Molly Barth (flute), Stephen Miahky (violin), Jeremy Wilson (trombone) and Felix Wang (cello). In this looping video, visitors can experience these world-class musicians playing Rose’s composition, amidst Ali Smith’s multilayered paintings.

The Fine Arts Gallery is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 1 to 4pm. Visitors (VU students, faculty and staff only) must reserve timed tickets in advance. For more information visit the Gallery website or email 

Michael Alec Rose is professor of composition at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, and a composer of symphonic, chamber, piano, vocal, wind ensemble, ballet and theater music.

Ali Smith paints vibrant, abstract compositions in oil on canvas whose forms suggest complex organic structures and imaginary landscapes. Her brightly colored and heavily textured networks of lines and forms constitute a personal language of motifs and shapes.

John Warren is a film and video artist, a lecturer in the Department of Art at Vanderbilt University and the artistic director of the psychedelic-themed Far Out Film Fest in Nashville.


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