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  • Danielle Hayden

Ekphrasis

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

I've been trying to get back to watching more films. There was one point in my life where I was watching at least three new (and by 'new' I mean unseen to me; not necessarily new releases) movies every week. I've been to Sundance. One entry on my bucket list is to attend Cannes. While I no longer have nearly as much free time (oh how I miss my 20s) and the time I do have I try to use more productively now, I can't abandon that part of me that is a cinephile. So last night I opened Netflix and watched Charlie Kaufman's I'm Thinking of Ending Things, based on the novel of the same name (which I have not yet read). In true Kaufman style, the movie is bizarre, dreamlike, and esoteric in some parts.


None of that has much to do with this post, actually. I do like to put things in context though to explain why I titled this blog entry as I did. There is a scene (no spoilers) in the film where a painting is mentioned: Christina's World, by Andrew Wyeth (1948). I'd seen images of it before once or twice but hadn't thought much of it when I was a kid. Not because I was unmoved by art in general during my youth, but this particular painting just didn't do much for me back then.


The next day, I saw it again in a totally unexpected place. And not in a place that could be blamed on social media algorithms or that was related to the film release. It was old, in fact, this reference I happened to come across. Coincidence yes, but now this painting has been on my mind and I want to write something about it just as a short exercise. Nothing for publication, just reflection. So that made me think of the practice of ekphrasis, and how on three occasions during the time I was a teacher (once with incarcerated men; another time with seventh graders in summer school; another time with a high schooler whom I was working with 1:1) I brought in art (abstract art though) and asked them to write about it. Just be free and say whatever you want to say about this work. Does it make you feel something? Write it down. Feel nothing? That's fine too. Write that shit down. What does it remind you of? What do you think the artist was trying to say? I loved this assignment.


Below is Christina's World. What comes to mind for you?






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