While writing and art utilize different mediums for expression, the intersection of these modes of creation holds the potential for collaboration as a means to explore truth and deepen an audience’s interaction with a fictional world. Taylor students in both the English and art departments spend a portion of their semester exploring this intersection.
This spring semester, Taylor University’s two-dimensional design class collaborated with the introduction to creative writing class as practice for future professional projects.
Art students were introduced to the project by assistant professor of art and co-chair of the art, film and media department, Laura Stevenson (’09). The other group involved, the writing class, was led by Professor of English, Aaron Housholder. This follows several years of collaboration between the two and Professor of English Daniel Bowman; Stevenson approached Bowman in 2017 after she returned to Taylor University to teach.
This spring, Housholder’s writing students worked through their semester by creating drafts of each genre of creative writing. As they approached the unit of fiction writing, each person drafted short stories. These pieces would be workshopped and revised and later utilized for this collaboration project.
Of all of the pieces created, a handful were then selected for illustration and later presented in a mock gallery alongside their visual counterparts.
Those in 2-D were more aware of their future partnership, although stories were assigned at random. In addition, artists were not told the names of the authors, preserving anonymity for the sake of the learning experience.
“Dr. Housholder and Professor Bowman have always been so supportive of the collaborative work among our classes,” Stevenson said.
While this was initially only practice for those in the art classes, the projects have grown larger in size and cooperation between the two groups.
“It's fantastic to see how sometimes doing a collaborative activity like this encourages students to creatively work with new imagery and ideas that they might not typically explore on their own,” Stevenson said. “Also, it's exciting to see Taylor students creating responses to other Taylor students' work and ideas. Art that is both visual and written can both enhance each other!”
Many of the artists spent hours in the Metcalf printing room practicing for and preparing their final prints.
Some of the artists, including freshman Sophia Ku, had worked with writers before, but never to this scale.
“One of the inclinations (God) has given me is to try my hardest at everything I do,” said Ku. “I feel like that comes out in my art as well. I want to do my best.”
Even before the actual print, there were weeks of work requiring thumbnails, sketches and ultimately carving before any ink was pressed. Each image on display was done by hand, the product of long lessons and prior assignments.
“Being able to bring that project to life was very fulfilling, very encouraging,” Ku said.
Though unaware at the time, Ku was visualizing the work of freshman Lydia Channel.
“I didn’t know that anyone would do my story for their print,” Channel said. “I found out that there were two students who got my story, and both prints were really great. I love them.”
Those present had the opportunity to choose a favorite product, presented as a contest to encourage those with the most support from their peers.
One of these two productions, awarded first place, was Channel and Ku’s.
“I saw Sophia’s print when I was walking through and it was absolutely beautiful,” Channel said. “It looked a lot like what I had in my mind. It was a great print, and I was super excited when I found out that it had won.”