Talking tour: Writers create stories out of visual art show

Talking tour: Writers create stories out of visual art show
Photo by Louise Wateridge

Visual art gets a voice this week.

The Red Hook art exhibit “Face to Face” has inspired ten local poets and playwrights to create their own pieces of work, riffing on the original art. The results, performed during walking tours of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition gallery space on Oct. 24, are a kind of collaboration between visual art and author, says the event’s director.

“We’re allowing the writer to be inspired and write what they feel from it,” said Courtney Wertzel.

Wetzel recruited ten writers to peruse the exhibit of personal narrative artwork, and to choose a piece that spoke to them. Each writer then crafted an original work based on the piece, without consulting with the original artist. One Boerum Hill playwright says that performances will give audiences a new perspective on the artwork.

“It’s almost like a gallery of theatrical events inspired by these pieces,” said Crystal Skillman, who wrote a monologue that will be performed by an actor during the event. “It brings you into a relationship with the piece in a different way.”

Skillman chose a bit of three-dimensional art titled “The Blue Forest” by Elle Winberg. It reminded Skillman of her currently-in-the-works play “Pulp Verite,” which involves two sisters who create their own mythology called “The Blue Thread” while being held captive in Syria. Skillman’s story, about being lost in a blue forest, could serve as part of her characters’ myths, she said.

Skillman, who studied photography at Parsons, is excited by the overlapping of the art, writing, and theater worlds. She says that the one-off walking tours will have an immersive quality, enveloping the audience with words as they examine the still art.

“Every time you hear a sentence or a word, for the audience it’s really evocative,” she said. “It brings them into the whole story.”

Keen art-lovers can sign up for one of the four tour times online, but there is no limit to the number of enthusiastic viewers who can cram into one group, said Wertzel. Spontaneous visitors and passerby are welcome to jump in and be immersed in an experience Wertzel hopes will be a thrilling twist on more routine art events.

“We wanted to turn the idea of a simple stage reading on its head a little bit,” she said.

“See/Hear! A Phantastic Ekphrastic Tour” at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition [499 Van Brunt St. between Beard Street and the waterfront in Red Hook, (718) 596–2501, www.bwac.org]. Oct. 24, tours start every half hour from 3–4:30 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.