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  • Writer's pictureShannon Gerrity

Art on Art : Making Meta Meaning

Spark flow and voice through Ekphrasis. Make meaning from meaning! It's meta! Meta!

  • Ekphrasis is when a creator uses one art form to comment on or react to another art form. It is when we respond to art!

  • This term and practice can be traced back to Homer's Iliad. Ancient!

  • Ekphrasis most commonly pairs visual and language arts though you can spark dance from literature, or song from painting, or a new recipe from something in the garden.

  • See what happens to your higher order thinking and and artist voice when you use one art form (a song, for example) to inspire your own art form (a piece of visual art, for example).

  • If you'd like to dig deeper into Ekphrasis, check out Scolastic's resource on combining visual art with poetry.

Before You Begin:

Remember that art is ish, it's human, and whatever comes from you is what it's meant to be. There's no such thing as "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong" in art, so get making!

When The Piece Feels Finished:

While art is never finished (it's alive and living!), share your art when you feel that it is grounded and whole - when you feel you have given it your full attention and care. Share your art by hanging it on a wall in your house, posting it on-line, or mailing it to someone you love.

Steps for Creating Ekphrasis Art on Art:

1. Yell: "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Make Art!" (This transitions your brain; there's research about this!)

2. Collect something to create on (paper, cardboard, post-it notes, whiteboard).

3. Gather creating materials (pen, pencil, highlighter, markers, crayons, color pencils, stamps, collage materials, any other materials that sparks your artist voice).

4. Choose one piece of art to inspire your ekphrastic art making; we will call this the art impetus.

Possible art impetus:

  • a poem/line of a poem,

  • a quote, a song/a lyric,

  • a dance performance,

  • a movie scene,

  • a television episode,

  • a recipe,

  • a fashion statement

  • or whatever art form not suggested that sparks you

5. Make a brainstorm of thoughts, ideas, feelings, visualizations that connect to, respond to, or comment on the art impetus.

6. Use your brainstorm to create a piece of visual art that connects to or responds to or extends upon the art impetus. This can be a free form exploration or, you can choose a constraint:

7. When you feel finished with your ekphrasis - when you feel grounded and whole in your art making, and have given the process your attention and care, see what you can notice in your product:

  • What most stands out about your piece?

  • How does your art piece connected to, respond to, or extend upon the art impetus?

  • How might you display or show your art piece with the art impetus?

  • How might this art piece live in the world? (I could mail this piece to someone. I could display the art piece and impetus somewhere in my environment. I could share this process with someone when I talk to them on the phone or video call.)

8. Share your ekphrasis with someone in your life and see if they'd like to try the process.

9. Notice your state-of-being: how do you feel? How can you describe your state-of-being?

10. Repeat the process and create a series.

Play with constraints:

  • find a new art impetus

  • try a different process or material for creating your ekphrasis

  • create a collaborative piece with someone else, taking turns choosing the art impetus, materials, or method for creating

  • set a timer and only make for a specific amount of time

And, voilà: you've made Ekphrasis Art on Art!

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