Sharon Dolin Recommends...

“As much as I have always been a writer and reader, entranced by what language does on the page, I have always been in love with visual art and the movies, so much so that I call myself an ekphrasist: a writer whose work engages with visual art. During this time of sheltering at home in New York City, I have had to upend my rule that I will only write about art that I have already visited in person. Yes, I subscribe to Walter Benjamin’s notion that works of art contain an aura that one can only experience in their presence and not with a ‘mechanical reproduction’ or, by extension, a virtual one. And yet, I find myself visiting museums I have never had—and may never have—a chance to visit (using Google’s Arts and Culture museum page that lists of hundreds of museums), such as Brazil’s MASP: Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand in order to find new works of art to inspire me to write. What drew me to this museum was its extensive online holdings in photography. All of these works, I reasoned, suffered less of a diminishment in my looking at them on a screen than, say, a painting or piece of sculpture might. I find the appeal of ekphrastic writing, especially during these times of isolation, remains its capacity to put me in dialogue with another work of art, and thus it enlarges and revivifies my sense of self, my inner landscape, my personal imagery. To refine and update The Moody Blues of my youth: Writing is the best way to travel.”
—Sharon Dolin, author of Hitchcock Blonde: A Cinematic Memoir (Terra Nova Press, 2020)