Barbara Penn — a certain slant of light

We invite you to create your own piece inspired by any one or all of these six photographs, and details, of Barbara Penn's installation art inspired by the life and writing of Emily Dickinson. Write a poem off of, compose or respond to, one of the images here, in the spirit of Dickinson; or a letter to the world you see in these rooms; or, a killer first line. 

Ekphrasis: The word comes from the Greek ek and phrasis, 'out' and 'speak' respectively, to proclaim or call an inanimate object by name.

This kind of visual description or poetic exercise is also the oldest type of writing about art in the West. Created by the Greeks, the goal of this literary form is to make the reader envision the thing described as if it were physically present. In many cases, however, the subject never actually existed, making the ekphrastic description a demonstration of both the creative imagination and the skill of the writer. For most readers it did not matter whether the subject was actual or imagined. The texts were studied to form habits of thinking and writing, not as art historical evidence.



(Text and Images © Barbara Penn)