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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Word of the Day: Ekphrastic- Art Interpreting Art

Writer Valerie Nieman

Ekphrastic- to me, it sounds like "Eek! I'm frantic and spastic!" but alas, it's not an onomatopoeia (words that sound like their meaning).

According to Wikipedia, "Ekphrasis" has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form, and in doing so, relate more directly to the audience, through its illuminative liveliness. A descriptive work of prose or poetry, a film, or even a photograph may thus highlight through itsrhetorical vividness what is happening, or what is shown in, say, any of the visual arts, and in doing so, may enhance the original art and so take on a life of its own through its brilliant description. One example is a painting of a sculpture: the painting is "telling the story of" the sculpture, and so becoming a storyteller, as well as a story (work of art) itself. Virtually any type of artistic media may be the actor of, or subject of ekphrasis.
Let's get ekphrastic!

Feb 24, 6:30-8:30pm Art After Dark: Ekphrastic Writing with Val Nieman

Art After Dark welcomes poet Val Nieman for an evening workshop of ekphrastic writing. Registration required. WAM members free; $5 nonmembers.

Every painting or sculpture crystallizes the artists’ view of the world. Likewise, a poet approaches the world through words, trying to capture that moment of recognition or insight. So what happens when they come together? A blending of imaginations known as ekphrasis.

Ekphrastic poetry celebrates the power of the image even as it tries to impose upon it the authority of the word. Learn about the technique, read great poems by Auden, Rilke, and others, then use the glorious variety of visual art in the exhibition, Weatherspoon Art Museum: 70 Years of Collectingto create our own “marriage of imaginations.”

Valerie Nieman is the author of a poetry collection, Wake Wake Wake, as well as a book of short stories and two novels. Her third novel, Blood Clay, set in Piedmont North Carolina, will be published in March. She has received an NEA creative writing fellowship, two Elizabeth Simpson Smith prizes in fiction, and the Greg Grummer Prize in poetry. She graduated from West Virginia University and the M.F.A. program at Queens University. She teaches writing at N.C. A&T State University and is the poetry editor for Prime Number.

WAM members free; $5 nonmembers. Register by contacting Terri Dowell-Dennis at: or (336) 256-1449.

Location: Dillard Room, Weatherspoon Art Museum

Val Nieman
Weatherspoon Art Museum
Wikipedia: "Ekphrasis"

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