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Art and Writing Workshop

Posted: April 9, 2010 by Ashley Andersen in Events, Poetry

On Saturday, April 3rd, the FSU Center for Creative Writing held its annual Writing and Art workshop. As an artist and writer I am always excited to attend this workshop. This year we combined the two workshops that were offered: Art as Muse and Making Art from Literature, into one session, which I think was a treat for everyone.

We began with poet George Guida’s Art as Muse workshop and looked at a couple of poems after Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. Both poems, Musee des Beaux Arts by W.H. Auden and Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by William Carlos Williams, directly address Bruegel’s painting, which I found interesting.

Following that, local painter Bill Dunlap gave us one-panel cartoons without words and assigned us the job of writing the accompanying text. Bill also showed us some of his artwork that involved using text as a visual element: a three-dimensional sculpture and an installation. The text became a visual element because of its composition of color, shape and line. This was inspiring to me because I’m shy at bringing text to an image, especially by hand.

After this exercise we worked on drawing a twig from a tree of our choice, provided by Bill. Twigs are not as simple as they seem when apart from their larger form, rather, there is so much individual design and mechanics to them. Half of us didn’t finish drawing and coloring the details of our twigs. Eventually, we accompanied our illustration with a poem or text inspired by our drawings and the scientific names of the features of our twigs. I find it interesting to draw conclusions and comparisons from seemingly unrelated text and images: it’s amazing the power words have over an image and its meaning.

George then provided images of familiar paintings, sculptures and architecture that we  first described with pure facts, and then we wrote creatively about the image we chose. For me, the most interesting part was devising what each character, in a figurative painting, might be doing or thinking. Some of the images were very abstract and invoked a more tonal writing.

This moved us into our final exercise of the day, a collaborative exercise by workshop members inspired by a long narrative painting by Roy De Forest. De Forest is a funk artist who produced a thirteen paneled work folding out accordion style titled,  Journey To The Far Canine Range And The Unexplored Territory Beyond Terrier Pass.

Artwork covers both sides of the panels, amounting to about 58.5 feet of art. Everyone, including the instructors took two panels and wrote a short poem about them, and we spliced them all together in one reading. It was cool to see each interpretation of the visual story and how those interpretations worked individually and together. Overall, I left the workshop inspired to create, both art and writing and finding new ways to engage both.