I just read a blog post by Alycia Zimmerman titled, Ekphrasis: Poetry About Art, and I really learned something new. I had no idea what ekphrasis meant before reading. The post defines this word as “writing about any art form, but in its modern usage, ekphrasis generally refers to poetry that reflects on visual art, and most often painting.”
So, the definition of this new word was a major hook for me. Those that know me know my passion for arts education and arts integration. The Kennedy Center defines arts integration as “an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both.” Writing about a work of visual art is a great way to engage students with arts integration. This post is full of resources on how to make this work in a classroom. Mentor poems, artist studies, and examples of student work are all included in the post.
I think using visual art as a prompt for writing is a very good way to have students construct and demonstrate their understanding. There is as much of a creative process to writing as the creation of visual art. One way this concept could be taken up a notch is if students created their own work of visual art and then wrote about it. However, having them use the work of others as a prompt for writing is a great starting place if you are interested in integrating the arts in your classroom.
I highly recommend reading this to see if you get any ideas for using ekphrasis in your classroom. If you have questions or would like to brainstorm a lesson around this concept, get in touch with me. That is right up my alley!
What do you think about using arts integration in your classroom? What do you think about the concept of ekphrasis? How can you make this work for your students? What benefits does it offer? What might hold you back from using this with students? Let’s talk about it!
Amanda Koonlaba is an elementary art teacher in Tupelo, MS. She is a contributor to MSEdBlog. Her views are her own and do not represent the views of any other entity.