Local artist uses brain condition to create art for exhibition


When you hear music, in your mind do you see color?

If you don't, you're like most people who hear the notes. But Julia Hamilton hears the notes and sees something most people don’t.

“When I was reading about synesthesia they were saying they see colors when they listen to music. and I was thinking, what they don't see those colors?” Hamilton explains.

Hamilton, an emerging artist and IT professional, sees colors and shapes that flash in her brain when she hears music.

In her 20's, while working in IT, Julia learned she has synesthesia, a neurological condition which also impacts how she hears and sees letters and numbers. About 5% of the population has synesthesia and every person’s colors are different.

“Every letter and every number has a color so when we're talking, every word has a flash of color,” Hamilton explains.

“I said something to my coworkers and they were like 'huh,'” Hamilton says. “They didn't know what I was talking about.”

What Hamilton was trying to explain, you can now see at Franklin Park Conservatory.

She created art using alcohol ink and fire, inspired by music.

“I was listening to the radio and the song Rapture comes on by Blondie and I thought oh it's so colorful and then she does rap,” Hamilton says. “The rap is the black and white and the yellow and orange balls are her beautiful voice.”

To help explain how her mind works, Julia used her IT background to create a mixed media piece that’s also on display at Franklin Park Conservatory. Every letter and number on the program has a color, so visitors can see what Hamilton sees when she hears or sees the letters.

“It's annoying when I park on level “c” and the level is orange,” she explains. “That's wrong, it should be green.”

But Julia has since embraced the colorful chaos in her mind and wants other people to realize through her artwork that we all see the world differently.

“I went for so long thinking that I was crazy, I've come to a point that I now love the colors that I see,” Hamilton said.

The In Loving Color Exhibit is on display through February 18 at Franklin Park Conservatory. For more information, click here.