Artist Profile: Erin Gee

While visiting San Jose I was able to visit the  artist residency program at the Montalvo Arts Center. Set on a 350-acre estate just southwest of San Jose, it is a multidisciplinary program that includes a culinary residency! I’ve often wondered why the culinary arts aren’t included in more fine arts programs. Artists live in a series of stunning contemporary residences complete with studio space and living quarters.While I was there I visited a number of the artists in residence, including composer Erin Gee.

Erin was working diligently on a new commission for the Zurich Opera House.  She gave me a live sneak preview, but sadly my Flip was not working, so instead she sent me this clip of one of her earlier works: Mouthpiece I, a solo voice piece where she substitutes her own set of sounds for a set of sanskrit phonetics (from the Rig Veda, for those of you who know your Eastern religions). The sounds are mesmerizing and otherworldly.

Erin has been working on the Mouthpiece series for over a decade. Her works have been performed at Carnegie Hall and she received a Guggenheim fellowship last year. The idyllic Montalvo workspace and grounds are quite conducive to the creative process. Erin’s been working with a videographer to record some of the works by shooting closeups of her lips as she performs them. I told her it reminded me of Lorna Simpson’s work Easy to Remember.

I can’t wait to see and hear what Erin comes up with as a result of her Montalvo residency.  For more about Erin and her work, visit