Visitors to the Gallery at PCA&D take time with Ana Vizcarra Rankin's "Old Midsummer," part of her solo Butterfly Effect exhibition.
Being in the presence of art often inspires our own creativity -- however we choose to express it, whether through writing, or music, or dance, or visual art we feel compelled to create.
Two Continuing Education classes this spring take full advantage of PCA&D's current gallery exhibition, Butterfly Effect, to kindle participants' own creative flames.
One, Painting and Exploring our Galaxy For Grades 6-9 (Saturdays Feb. 29 through March 21), uses artist Ana Vizcarra Rankin's exhibition as a springboard for sketching in a gallery setting and developing those sketches into paintings that reflect their personal interpretation of Vizcarra Rankin’s work. This class is led by artist and Elizabethtown College instructor Susan Wheelersburg, whose background includes studying Art Education at James Madison University and Millersville University, and Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design.
The second is a Monday, March 16 workshop for adults: Gallery + Writing About: Ana Vizcarra Rankin: Butterfly Effect -- led by Erin Dorney. Co-founder of Fear No Lit, Dorney is an award-winning artist and writer based in Lancaster
Curious to learn more?
We asked Dorney a few questions about what Gallery + Writing About workshop participants can expect:
How students are guided:
In this class, I will give a brief review of ekphrastic writing, which is writing in response to a work of art. We'll look at a few examples together, and then I will lead participants through the exhibition. We'll stop at individual pieces, look at them, and then I will share a writing prompt. Then we all write silently and individually for a set amount of time (usually 3-8 minutes) and when the time is up, everyone has the opportunity to share. Sharing is always totally optional, but sometimes people like to talk about what they wrote, if the prompt spoke to them or not, or react to the art in a new and different way.
Do you need to have knowledge of the arts, or the artist's work, to take this class?
You don't need to know anything about art or writing to take this workshop. It's structured but very low pressure because you're the only one who will see what you write in response to each prompt. You could also respond to the prompts visually, if that is better for you. Sometimes I see people sketching in their notebooks instead of writing.
Basically, I am trying to trigger some creative thought in your head, through the combination of looking at pieces of art and being asked pointed questions about them. No one is going to be checking for your grammar or spelling or even if you followed the instructions, so it can be whatever you make it. I'm more like a guide.
"When you visit a larger gallery or museum, it's easy to become focused on getting through it all and seeing as much art as possible. If I'm asking myself questions about the work, I linger on it. If I have a place to sit down with my notebook and a pencil, I linger even longer."
What do you mean by "generative writing?"
When I use the phrase generative writing, I mean that in this workshop, you will write new words. Some writing workshops focus on editing, constructive critique, or particular elements of writing like plot, setting, or dialogue. Generative writing workshops are my favorite kind because you know you're going to leave with three or four beginnings that you can work on later. You're probably not going to sit down and write a fully-finished poem, but you might get a few lines of something that stick in your head, that you go back to and work on later and end up being something you publish or share with your friends.
The constraints are key for me in this particular workshop -- you're sitting in a strange environment (an art gallery); you're being timed; someone is asking you to keep your pen or pencil moving for the whole 5 minutes. More often than not, that results in new, weird, or surprising results!
Do you use ekphrasis -- looking at art in a highly personal way -- to unlock your own writing?
I use ekphrasis personally as a way to slow down in the presence of art. When you visit a larger gallery or museum, it's easy to become focused on getting through it all and seeing as much art as possible. If I'm asking myself questions about the work, I linger on it. If I have a place to sit down with my notebook and a pencil, I linger even longer. Later I go back to those notes and use them in my own writing.
Know a 6th- through 9th-grader who might want to Paint and Explore the Galaxy? Read on ...
Instructor Susan Wheelersburg shares what you can expect in the four-session class:
"The first class will begin in the gallery space where students will have an opportunity to survey the artwork of Ana Vizcarra Rankin’s and select a piece that 'speaks to them.' Making an emotional connection is the initial way that many people begin a gallery experience.
"As a teacher, I also hope to guide students to come to a deeper understanding of the artist’s intent by examining how she uses the principles and elements of design to express her ideas. We will spend about 30 minutes sketching in the gallery and then return to our studio space to develop these sketches into works of art. I am a firm believer in allowing student to make their own artistic decisions, so each student will determine the medium that they wish to work in: pastels, charcoal, watercolor, and acrylic paints, to name a few.
"That’s what I find most rewarding about teaching young art students -- helping them recognize that they already possess what many adult artists are trying to recapture"
"Three of Ana Vizcarra Rankin’s gallery paintings are imagined representations of nebulae in the galaxy. On day two, the students will use these to springboard into their own interpretation of nebulae. They will learn brush-handling techniques essential for creating beautiful gaseous effects in their paintings. On days three and four we will look at the work of science fiction illustrators who paint fantastic landscapes of worlds largely imagined. We will use these two final days to create an imaginary planetary landscape employing the basic compositional elements of background, midground, and foreground for dramatic effect.
"What really excites me about teaching this class is that the students are being given the opportunity to interact with real art in a real gallery setting. Art is meant for face-to-face interaction, but most students only experience art as presented in a PowerPoint or as a poster on the wall in an art room. Viewing is itself a creative act. As you observe a work of art in a gallery, reflecting at your own pace, you employ your own imagination to discover what the work could possibly mean. The work is viewed through the lens of your experiences as you attempt to relate to it in some way.
"I have long believed that imagination is an undervalued resource that each and every child brings with them to class. Using your imagination opens the door to endless possibilities. As a teacher, I love being the catalyst that brings this into play in their artwork. That’s what I find most rewarding about teaching young art students -- helping them recognize that they already possess what many adult artists are trying to recapture. I hope by the end of this class, the students will come away feeling proud about what they have created, and that their experience connecting to art in the gallery will be one that they use again the next time they visit a gallery."
Interested in learning more about these and other Continuing Education classes, workshops, and programs? You can find full information on classes and register here, or email email@example.com with questions.