An Exhibit for Writing by Cheryl Owen-Wilson

I enjoy visual art in every form. It feeds an energy within me like food fuels the body. So when I’m visiting a new town the first thing I search out are the art venues. I recently visited Austin, Texas and toured The Blanton Museum of Art. I had two glorious hours to roam before being confined in a hotel conference room for the remainder of my stay. I play a game with myself when viewing art installations. First I visualize what the piece is saying to me. Only after I hear it speak do I read the artists statement to see what the artist wished to convey. Two of the installations spoke loudly, causing me to pause and view my chosen forms of creative expression in a new light. Each form of expression I use is tangible; however, until I was exposed to these particular art pieces I had not realized how much one (painting) was more so than the other (writing).

In my home, in the time it takes me to walk from the entryway and turn right into the living room I can view the progress I’ve made as an artist. Paintings from my early endeavors, to current day, hang side by side. If you were to enter my home and turn left from the entryway and walk down the hallway, you’d be in my studio where it’s quite apparent an artist is in residence. In the studio other than the usual paint spattered easel, paint tubes and paint brushes, you’ll find vertical stacks of framed, not framed, wrapped and not wrapped canvases. Some are complete, some are in progress, some are stark white just waiting for a vision to be created; and finally some would better serve the world if they became kindling for a nice campfire. Yes, from the visuals to the smell of oil paint and turpentine you and I would both know I’ve spent many, many hours painting. And if I so chose, I could display my art in an exhibit to a much broader audience. Thus my painting is a very tangible part of my home.

On the flip side, my other creative outlet of writing is not evident when entering my home or as I walk around searching for a muse to suit my current story. The only tangible evidence would be if you or I spent hours sorting through the many books on my bookshelves. There we would find Shadowspinners, A Collection of Dark Tales. Within its covers is a short story with my name as author. I do have many notebooks hidden in drawers, stories packed in plastic bins and of course my computer holds file upon file of the imaginary lives I’ve woven into short-stores, poems and even a half-finished novel or two. Don’t you as well? But as I said they are not evident, not hanging from walls. Even in the homes of my prolific, and well-published writer friends, while they have their books scattered amongst others on shelves, there is little evidence of the months and years they’ve spent stringing word after word together to create story. And now in this era of e-books and e-zines, holding your printed story as it sits between two covers is even less likely to occur. So instead of a pile of published books you have an inventory of e-books on sites such as Amazon. I’ve spent just as many hours placing black words on white paper as I’ve spent brushing paint on a white canvas. I realize writers can have an exhibit of sorts , when they publish a new book and they have a book signing. If you are lucky enough to have printed copies what a wonderful feeling of accomplishment it must be to sit at a table surrounded by your creations. But the realization that writing is not a tangible presence I can view as I walk through my home struck me as quite unfair.

The art exhibits I alluded to at the beginning of this blog led me to ponder how to exhibit, in my home, the many hours I spend writing. As I mentioned, the thing I most love about art is how each of our interpretations is filtered through our own view and lives. I’ve listed the artists name and gallery below each photo as I’m only giving you my interpretation of the piece. Each of these artists have a much more profound statement they wish you to understand when viewing their art. The deeper meanings revolve around their own unique time, political atmosphere and country in which they originated. I encourage you to view the artist’s statement of each piece.

In the first exhibit the artist marks the passage of time by creating one-inch thick plaster tablets each day. The number of tablets created each day varied depending on how much time the artist had available to create them. Each tablet is stamped with the date it was produced and organized into stacks recording each day’s labor.


2244 Modules” Isabel Del Rio                  The Blanton Museum of Art

         While viewing this piece I was a voyeur into writers workspaces prior to the computer age. It reminded me of the photos I’ve seen of mounds of paper surrounding infamous writers in the offices or closets where they created life-altering works of fiction. After viewing this piece, in my mind, I was pulling all those stories that lay hidden in bins and drawers and printed pages from my computer. I could see them stacked in towers based on year or month created. I may actually take the time to do this someday, but for now just the image floating across my brain makes me smile. What an exhibit it would make! How many rooms would your stories fill? How many homes?

In the second exhibit the 600,000 coins on the ground represent for me each word placed on a page or typed on a screen. The 2000 suspended cattle bones represent each story agonized over until it’s finally sent out into the world for acceptance or rejection. This gave me the idea for a small exhibit I can actually display in my home. I will place a coin in a beautiful glass bowl for each page I write in the year 2016. Perhaps I will place a penny for a page or a nickel for a short story or a quarter for a chapter. It matters not what my final decision is what does matter is the visual it will represent. It also doesn’t matter if an hour later I delete the entire paragraph or chapter. What does matter is it existed and is a part of my journey as a writer. Unfortunately I don’t think I can find enough bones for the agony portion of my exhibit. But, I am most pleased that I will now have something tangible to represent writing in my life. Each time I add a coin to my bowl the mere sound will reflect another page in a story. And as I walk through my home and reflect on the paintings covering its walls and by the ever-increasing bowl of coins I will know I am progressing, not just as a painter, but as a writer as well.


“How to Build Cathedrals” Cildo Meireles             The Blanton Museum of Art

          I’ll happily share a photo of my overflowing bowl at years end. What will the exhibit for your writing be?