Art and Writing

This weekend, a friend came to town for our first post-vaccination visit. I am embracing these moments of being together after such a long stretch of not seeing the people who mean so much to me. We took the opportunity of reuniting to attend two art exhibits, and I wanted to share how immersing myself in someone else’s artistic creation affects my writing.

First, we went to see the Obama Portraits at the Chicago Art Institute. Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Barack and Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle not only capture the two important leaders but also tell powerful stories about their presidency, backgrounds, and race in America. I was moved to deep emotion. I had a hard time pulling myself away from the portraits to continue to enjoy other artwork at the gallery. I felt as if the Obamas stood in front of me, explaining the significance of their lives.

Second, the following day, we attended the Frida Kahlo Exhibit at the College of DuPage here in the Chicago suburbs. The curators packed a ton of important information and stories into telling her history – and then you experience a number of her paintings and portraits. Seeing her life as expressed through art was as moving as the Obama portraits but in a much different way. The gender, race, and art history were profound.

I wish I could command everyone who reads this blog to go to both exhibits! How does such art weave into my writing? Because viewing the images tapped into my emotional center, prompting thoughts about the human condition and the meaning of an individual’s life. All of the artwork inspired me with the creativity and power of the artist’s brush, much like a writer uses a pen to tell a similar story. Sometimes as a writer I must step away from the actual craft and experience life and art to renew and inspire myself. Three amazing artists in two days certainly energized me anew.

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