Writing about Art (and Culture) to Make Art (and a Living) with David Masello

Monday, September 24, 2018 at 11:00 AM until Monday, October 22, 2018 at 01:00 PM

Sarah Lawrence College
1 Mead Way
Bronxville, NY 10708
United States

Instructor: David Masello
5 sessions, $450

It is often thought that the only way to write about art and culture is to do so as a critic. But there are many other ways to respond to and write about art—paintings sculpture, dance, drama, books and literature, architecture, poetry, film—apart from being a critic (though that is a perfectly fine occupation).


In this five-course class, I will examine ways to be a writer about and culture and, ideally, make a living doing so.


Our first class will address feature writing about art and culture for magazines, newspapers, websites, books, anthologies, and other venues where the written word still prevails. Feature writing requires reporting, interviews with curators and artists must be conducted, and personal responses to the subject matter are necessary. This is the broadest and most comprehensive way to write about art and culture. As the editor of a magazine about design, I know this subject well.


Next, we will look at the personal essay as a way to respond to a work of art. Here the writer creates a response to a work of art from a personal standpoint. In some ways, this is what might be known as an ekphrastic response, referencing the Greek word, “art from art.” There is a long tradition of the ekphrasitc poem, and we will explore this briefly, too, in this class.


A third class will look at venues apart from print and digital where art writing can be exploited—at live essay reading series’ (e.g. read650.com), by leading groups on focused art-related tours, presenting talks at cultural venues… When you develop an expertise in a particular area of art and culture, you can share it in print, digitally, and as a kind of performance. Many writers on art and culture develop short or full-length plays based on works of art or figures in the art world.


Then we will look at writing essays for artists and writing reviews. When an artist is the subject of a featured exhibition, he/she often requires an accompanying essay in a catalogue or as a handout at the gallery. This is a specialized form of writing, one that combines the essay with a feature article with a positive critique of the work. Another related component is, indeed, that critical response, which can be a book review, art review, film review, et al.


Finally, our class will emphasize our need to be creative to be creative. What do we do with our accumulated writings on art and culture? Do they become a book, a film, a series of lectures/talks, a stage play? Where does a writer about art and culture find his/her topics? When does what you write become its own work of art?

DAVID MASELLOis a writer and editor based in New York. He is executive editor of Milieu, a national print magazine about design. He has held senior editor positions at several publications, including Town & Country, Art & Antiques, Travel & Leisure, and Departures. He has published numerous essays in leading journals and anthologies, including the New York Times and Best American Essays. He is a widely published poet and author of two books about art and architecture. He lectures at universities about journalism and the arts. He has had plays produced and performed by the Manhattan Repertory Theatre, Jewish Women’s Theatre of Los Angeles, National Arts Club, Big Apple Theatre Festival and Fresh Fruit Theatre Festival. He has written several essays for read650.com, a live reading series based in New York City, all of which have been filmed.

Writing Institute Registration Process:

Step 1 - Registration Information: Complete this registration form in full.

Step 2 - Payment: Once you click submit on this form, a new page will appear in your browser with a payment link. Click on the payment link, complete the required information, and submit your payment. 

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Step 3 - Confirmation: Once we receive your payment, your registration will be finalized and confirmed with an email. Please keep this email for your records.  Details about room assignment, parking, and any other information relevant to the course will be emailed to registered students the week before classes begin.

If you have questions about the registration process, please call us at 914-395-2205 or email writinginstitute@sarahlawrence.edu.


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