Award-winning authors Carrie Brown and John Gregory Brown offer a shared presentation on writing and art: how art informs and inspires the writer, and how learning to “see” shapes and enriches writing. Participants will see how these two writers learn from the world of visual art. Short writing exercises and shared reading of those exercises will follow the presentations.
Friday, April 25, 2014
10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., with an hour break for lunch, not included
St. John’s Church Parish Hall
2401 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23223
Ample free on-street parking is available
$60 for JRW members
$100 for non-members
John Gregory Brown: One Year, Ten Thousand Photographs
Henri-Cartier Bresson famously quipped, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” I set out to examine how my encounter with the world – my manner of seeing—might be altered by taking 10,000 photographs. I understood the process of attempting to make art by means of the written word, but I wondered if I could in any way learn what it means to make visual art by the most rudimentary (though hi-tech) means: taking pictures with only a cell phone and Instagram, the free free app that offers users a variety of “artistic” filters. I became less interested in the results of this project than the profound way it seemed to be changing me.
Carrie Brown: Listening to the Majestic Silence
“Try to be one on whom nothing is lost,” Henry James advised. The writer, continually on the prowl for inspiration and ideas, can turn to visual art as a way of being reminded of the texture and weight of the world, its patterns of light and dark, its arrangements of shapes, its composition of details. All that materiality—all that “thisness” as the Irish theologian John Duns Scotus called the essence of objects—must somehow make it onto the page in order for the writer to create what John Gardener, for instance, called the “vivid and continuous dream” that is a story. Paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures stand before us and ask us to look at them. By looking we awaken both the outer eye—that which can been seen on the surface—and also the inner eye, the sense or intuition that recognizes and approaches what is most ineffable, the “truth” deep in a work of art.
Born and raised in New Orleans, John Gregory Brown is the author of the novels Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur, and Audubon’s Watch. His honors include a Lyndhurst Prize, the Lillian Smith Award, the John Steinbeck Award, and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year Award. He is the Julia Jackson Nichols Professor of English at Sweet Briar College and lives in Virginia. He and his wife, the novelist Carrie Brown, have three children.
Carrie Brown is the author of six novels—most recently The Last First Day—and a collection of short stories. She has won many awards for her work, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, The Great Lakes Book Award, and, twice, the Library of Virginia Award for fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in journals including One Story, Glimmer Train, The Georgia Review, and The Oxford American. She taught for many years at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, the writer John Gregory Brown. She is now Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University.
James River Writers extends our appreciation to St. John’s Church for being a sponsor of our 2014 Master Class series. Proceeds benefit James River Writers.