Joy Sullivan is a Columbus-based educator and poet. Currently, she serves as the artist-in-residence with the Pages program and as a Museum Education Fellow for the Wexner Center for the Arts. With a masters in Poetry from Miami University and a teaching license from Ohio Dominican University, her academic work reflects an interest in gender studies, social justice, and community development. She is passionate about her neighborhood of Franklinton, equality in education and facilitating local writing workshops in the community. Joy worked with Wex educators Dionne Custer Edwards and Jean Pitman on our October 2 event, "Sound + Sense: Poetry in the Galleries", and shares the experience here.
“The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action” –John Dewey
Last month's WexLab Sound + Sense combined a love for writing, sensory experience and the intersection of music and lyric. Under the guidance of Dionne Custer Edwards and Jean Pitman, the workshop sought to help students explore their craft through the lens of Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957.
Together, participants reimagined how language could be shaped when experienced through the five senses. As a group, each student mapped out different kinds of tactile and embodied sentences: silky, spiky, chocolate-flavored, shy. Each participant qualified the prompt in their own way, holding onto the long vowels, emotive pauses, sharp syllables, and peppered-in punctuation. One student wrote for her spiky sentence: Ice breaks on the nails of a voice. Another wrote for his shy example, the perfectly simple: It is. It was fascinating to watch how each student shook up pre-conceived notions of language and revived it through sensory-driven experience.
After pre-writing activities, workshop participants were able to explore the galleries. Each was encouraged to find pieces that inspired them--either by form or method. After walking through the exhibit, they took a cue from John Dewey and practiced learning by making and doing. Everyone was encouraged to make creative choices in the spirit of Black Mountain poets who were constantly experimenting, taking risks, and pushing the envelope.
WexLab students produced word-sculptures, blackout poetry, prose, mandalas, and even performance pieces. As a finale for the workshop, participants were able to present via open mic and showcase the work they had done over the day. They stood on the dance floor in the gallery and read or performed their work. Through the shared mingling of idea, voice, and the senses, students carried on the tradition of Black Mountain College and evidenced again the power of art to impact the next generation.
The Wex's education team supports teachers, families, communities, and students of all ages. Ready to learn something new? You can get started here.
Photos: Cameron Granger