How long do people look at your art? Do they ever give you some feedback that goes beyond their liking it? Real, thoughtful reactions to an artist’s work can be rare. I had the profound experience last weekend to have young women actually write with my work as an inspiration during A Day of Writing and Art.
The event was sponsored by Bloomington’s Women Writing for (a) Change, and funded by Indiana University’s Arts Week. Young women (4th through 12th grade) were invited to come to a downtown venue to view a show of local artists. Participants were introduced to a technique called Ekphrasis, literally “writing to art.” They spent time viewing a piece, and then began to put their ideas into words. They would periodically gather in small groups, and then in a large circle to share what they had written.
Young women write during Women Writing for (a) Change's A Day of Writing and Art.
I spent the morning taking photographs and helping the facilitators, and at lunch had an opportunity to join a panel of artists discussing with the young women about our creative processes, our experiences with successes and challenges, and why we made our art.
Elizabeth Busey, Fibonacci, Linoleum Reduction Print, 18 x 18in, 2010.
As I was taking pictures of a small group later in the afternoon, I realized that one young woman had responded to my print Long Pond Stillness. The facilitator asked her if she would like me to listen as well, and she agreed. In my print, she had seen snow, cherry blossoms, tree branches, and perhaps the aftermath of a forest fire. I was thrilled with the creative writing my print had inspired. The facilitators later told me that this young woman had at first declined to read her work, but by the end of the day she read her work to an audience of parents and community members.
Elizabeth Busey, Long Pond Stillness, Linoleum Reduction Print, 13 x 18in, 2010.
As the afternoon wore on, other girls who had written about my prints wanted to share their work with me. Each one came with different words and ideas, but all had such excitement in their eyes as they shared their writing with me. The WWf(a)C faculty stress that when you share your words with others, you are giving them a gift. I received just such a gift that Saturday afternoon. Their written words will hang proudly in my studio, and I am already thinking about new prints that might feature cherry blossoms or bare tree branches.