English 430: Literature & the Visual Arts

December 15, 2009

I really like what it is…

Filed under: Uncategorized — psr10308 @ 10:10 pm

Reading What It Is: The Formless Thing Which Gives Things Form Inside Outside What is an Image? Do You Wish You Could Write Dramatically Illustrated with More Than Color Pictures by Lynda Barry I found to be an inspirational experience. This book is like a course in creativity. It addresses the idea of insecurities over “talent” and identifies it as stifling to the creative process. Barry’s approach to artistic expression is attractive to me because of its absence of pretentiousness. It seems to identify art as a process of creativity and practice rather than the manifestation of pure talent. The first part of the book describes Barry’s beginning interest in art and the desire to express herself artistically. She discusses the insecurities that discouraged her from artistic expression, and this leads to a period of lapse in her artistic output. The second part of the book represents something like the reclamation of her own artistic integrity or a sense of security with her own expressive artistic form. This is the part of the book that reads like an art and creative writing class. There are several pages that are set up like worksheets designed to develop and strengthen the creative process. She refers to it as the “Adjustable Creativity Book,” a “Writing Kit Complete! Easy-to-use! No Experience Needed!” I appreciate her encouraging sentiments, and I like her welcoming statement, “Welcome to writing the unthinkable!”  This is followed by exercises intended to unlock creative potential that is suppressed by inhibitions.  Also, I like that Barry treats artistic expression as a source of personal enrichment, and that the idea of commercial success is not the focal point in this artistic endeavor that seeks to share with others its inspiration for artistic expression.

The form of What It Is is a unique combination of elements we have encountered in class. It is similar to an art book in look and feel despite the fact that its mass produced. It juxtaposed text and image and it seems to treat visual art and creative writing as inseparable or at least intrinsically relative to one another. There are instances when What It Is looks similar to Blake’s interweaving of nature imagery and written words. It also looks like Blake’s work in that the writing looks handwritten, and the images look like drawings produced by hand. As I try to draw more similarities to other 430 course readings, I’m left struck by the uniqueness of What It Is. I’m not using the word lightly. The saying goes—there’s nothing new under the sun—and the elements of What It Is can be categorized as collage, art, poetry, comic book, etc; nevertheless, it is a one-of-a-kind product of expression. It seems to me to be an exemplary culmination of the concepts and ideas we have covered in our class throughout the semester.  It is a unique example of the possible interplay between visual art and literature.

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