Friday, 16 November 2012

Creative Writing at the School of Visual Arts New York

I was very fortunate to sit in on a 'Creative Writing' class hosted by Michele Zackheim who is a Arts Lecturer at the School of Visual Arts in New York.  The lesson was about 'Creative Writing' which is something I want to do more of as I loven to create imaginary worlds, characters and narratives. We were asked to select an image at random, Being a massive fan of Masks I chose E. S. Curtis's 'Humanoid Mask'.

 Once we had a image to work with we began creating a 'Sense of Place' for the world in which this person lived in, the message or meaning it communicated to me and the era/location it originates from.  I came up with the following....

  • A tribal Chief, Figure of importance
  • Proud stance, dominant
  • Aztec Tribe, Native American
  • Mysterious, Secretive
  • Unsure if Male or Female
  • We all wear Masks in our lives either physically or subconsciously
  • Vibrant warm colours such as Red, Yellow, Orange & Green
  • Religious Beliefs, Mother Nature
  • Smells: Fire, Ink, Wood, Midnight air & Nature
  • Sounds: Tribal Drums & strange songs
We then were asked to write a short story to describe our chosen character in a creative, descriptive way....

''Under the bright moon, deep in the native forest the leaves move to the beat of the drums and song dances through the deep, dark night.  Tall burning flames flicker up totem poles that reach high into the sky and beyond.  Warm yellow, orange and red beam from above, whilst below dark shadows worship this human shaped burst of colour.  It's mask is still and dominant in it's presence.  Silently.  It sits''

I found this exercise very beneficial and useful, from looking at one image it's possible to create a 'Sense of Place' and a short piece of descriptive language that could be the main essence of a story/narrative.  It really opened up my mind and I enjoyed it very much.  I shall use this process again for creating stories in the future, It's also a great way to create characters and worlds.

The students in the class were also a delight to meet and they made us feel so welcome, So a big thank you to all at SVA!, I also got to sit at an American style desk!

Another great thing from this experience was that I discovered the photographer E.S Curtis, who has done alot of Mask & Tribal photography, So I shall look into their work some more.

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