SchoolArts Magazine

APR 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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A D V O C A C Y T he ancient Greeks developed a creative response process called "ekphrasis." Originally, the term meant to respond to artwork by describing it in detail. Today, ekphrasis refers to a poet using their imagination to respond to a work of art. The process of ekph - rasis moves beyond literally describ- ing what one sees, to interpreting the artwork in a way that draws on personal inspiration in delivering a universal message. Frank Juarez, chair of the art department at Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin, created an artist- in-residence program whereby a local artist has regular studio hours in the high school and collaborates with con - tent area. When the residency comes to an end, a reception is held in our art gallery. Adults from the community attend, as well as North High staff and administration. Poetry Writings and Readings The North High Poetry Club attends the receptions for the artist-in-res- idence, and during that time, they write poems based on the art dis- played. The student poets then read their poems before a live audience of teachers, administrators, the artist-in residence, and community members. "Being a part of this experience was a wonderful opportunity to see how every form of art goes hand in hand with one another," said Elizabeth Butler, a sophomore club member. Sophomore Jessica Kurtovic added, "I had fun combining artwork and poetry together. It was creative and brought more meaning to the poems and the artwork." Ways to Replicate Ekphrasis This sort of experience could be replicated even without an artist-in- residence program. A community art - ist might be invited to a school for a special exhibit of his or her artwork. Students could also visit local artists' receptions and, with permission, write poems and share them. The interface between high-school students and community artists is powerful and works both ways. Artists and commu - nity members are always impressed The Poetr of Ekphrasis Sylvia Cavanaugh and emotionally moved to hear the poetic voices of the high-school stu - dents as they respond to their art. Art and Poetry The artist receptions at North High occur after school hours. Imagine a row of windows and traces of a golden January sunset as the backdrop to an artist's reception where teens, adults, and community members mingle and discuss art and poetry. Although fleeting, these are memo - rable experiences that students reflect back on. The poems they create are treasured and continue to be shared years after the event. In the words of senior poetry club member Kaitlyn Becker, "The experience of seeing art and then writing about it is exciting. An artist portrays emotions, and we as poets work on these emotions, and try to put them into words. It is amazing how many different poems arise from one painting. It shows how art affects everyone differently, and in this way, art and poetry go together." Sylvia Cavanaugh is a teacher and poetry advisor at Sheboygan North High School in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. scavanaugh@ sasd.net The process of ekphrasis draws on personal inspiration to deliver a universal message. Sheboygan North High School students, staff, and community members attend a reception for an artist in residence. 14 APRIL 2019 SchoolArts

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