“When the writing is slow or when I’m between projects, I pull on my boots and head to an art museum. Museums dilate us. Our job is to stay open and look—at this Rembrandt self-portrait, at this Rachel Whiteread casting, at this Kara Walker silhouette, at this Rothko color field. What happens as we look depends entirely on the looker and what is being looked at. But something inevitably happens—you love it and look more deeply, you hate it and wonder why, you remember something, your mood shifts, an image emerges, a line of thinking starts to lead you in an unexpected direction.
After I’ve let a piece of art wash through me, I retreat to a little side-space—the West Garden Court at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. or the little courtyard in the Robert Lehman Wing at the Met in New York. I pull out my notebook and write something. It likely has nothing to do with whatever I was working on at home. But it doesn’t have to. As Jeannette Winterson claims in her essay ‘Art Objects’: ‘A picture, a book, a piece of music, can remind me of feelings, thinkings, I did not even know I had forgot.’ The art I let in reminds me of something, or perhaps it has re-minded me—my mind now put back together in a slightly different way. And my pen makes its way across the page.”
—Randon Billings Noble, author of Be With Me Always (University of Nebraska Press, 2019)