On Saturday, I gave a workshop at the Ottawa Art Gallery that promised the following:
This practical seminar will lead participants through activities on a few aspects of professional art writing: generating raw material, identifying potential publications and story formats, pitching story ideas, freelancing, and self-editing. The increasing options in self-publishing will also be discussed, and time will be reserved for participant questions and input.
I really only scratched the surface of these topics in the time available, and I appreciated the energy, patience and stamina of those attending in terms of the limits of the day and of the, ahem, instructor.
In any case, I returned from the day with a variety of questions and notes. Here's a sampling. Many of them are basic questions or ones that most writers have already visited and revisited. Still, they stuck in my mind:
How does our view of (and writing about) an artwork change when we take at least 10 minutes to look at it as opposed to 1 minute?
How scary or uncomfortable (or maybe discovery-enhancing) can it be to look at art and try to engage it or make notes on it without doing preliminary research about the artist or the exhibition?
How does our view of an artwork change when we (similarly) do not look at the name of the artist on the accompanying label but simply at the work itself?
How useful is it to promote more writing on art when there are few venues that pay writers for such texts? Or few venues that publish such texts, period?
Some people perceive art writing to be much less lively and vital than movie writing. To what can we attribute this?
If one is a full-time journalist, how is one supposed to cover art when one finds it mundane--eliciting no strong reaction?
Is there a website in Canada where people can connect to discuss art writing or art criticism?
These are just a few of the questions that stuck in my craw. Some of these issues have already been discussed previously on my blog and of course elsewhere, but just wanted to commemorate. I already posted some of these questions to Twitter as well, where @GWHatt (Kitchener-area curator Gordon Hatt) and @hollygowritely (who I believe may be Ottawa journalist and workshop attendee Holly Gordon) had some great comments and clarifications to make. Both worth a follow!
(Incredibly realistic and definitely not Photoshopped writing pad image from Degree Directory)
Monday, February 21, 2011
Posted by Leah Sandals at 8:46 PM