When Writing and Art Come Together: A Student Activity

I ran across a handout for a one day workshop to be held Saturday, August 1, at the Portland Art Museum.  The workshop is called “Poetry, Art Becomes Muse”.  I got really excited until I saw that the workshop was only for teen writers, 13 to 19.

Guess I can’t go. Too bad!  It sounds inspiring.

The students will tour the galleries of the museum and write in response to the visual pieces.  The instructor is Joseph Bradshaw.  In the handout it states that every piece of art will be viewed on its own terms through the lens of possibility rather than judged according to some arbitrary measure of merit.

Interesting. I’m still trying to figure out how to get in the workshop.

This concept is actually something that Art, English, and Homeschool teachers can use to help their students become familiar with museum pieces. There are so many places to find work by famous artists.  You can go on the internet and print out work, buy a poster, or even better, visit a local museum.

Have the students study the work and write a description of the piece focusing solely on what is seen.  Then, change the direction of writing.  Give the students a list of questions. Let them choose two or three questions to answer. You can write questions yourself, use some of the examples below, or get the students to come up with questions of their own.

Example questions:

  • What was the artist trying to say in this artwork?
  • What do you think is happening in the piece?  What happened before or after?
  • If you close your eyes after looking at the artwork, what comes to mind first? Explain.
  • How do you feel emotionally when you look at this artwork? Explain.
  • If you could talk to the artist about the artwork, what would you say?  What questions would you ask?
  • Is there anything about the artwork that bothers you or that you would change?

In this exercise, the student isn’t judging the artwork by a set of rules.  The student is being allowed to absorb the essence of the artwork, to think about the piece, and to try to get into the artist’s head a little.  The great thing about this assignment; there are no wrong answers!

Try doing this exercise with your students and let me know how it turns out. If you get some really good responses, I would love to read them.  Paste the writings into the comments section of this article along with the title of the work and the name of the artist.

By the way, any teens in the Portland area that are interested in the August 1st workshop need to call 503-823-2787 to register. There is a fee of $25.00. Some scholarships are available.  The course number is #298163.  I’ll let you know if I figure out how to get in the workshop.  ):

Happy Writing!

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1 Response to When Writing and Art Come Together: A Student Activity

  1. Hey Terry,

    thanks a ton for sharing the info! Seems like a great idea…I wonder if we could find some real exciting ways of looking at traditional things. This is fantastic approach. Creativity at one of its best shot. That explains why you still seem to be so excited to attend the workshop, is it..
    .-= Mohit Valecha´s last blog ..Colorful Bottles =-.

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