Mary Hall Surface in front of Edward Hopper’s 1939 painting Cape Cod Evening at the National Gallery of Art
Discover how visual art can inspire creative writing and how writing can offer a powerful way to experience art. Join Mary Hall Surface, the founding instructor of the National Gallery of Art’s popular Writing Salon, for five online workshops that explore essential elements of writing and styles through close looking, word-sketching, and imaginative response to prompts.
The sessions spotlight a diverse range of visual art chosen to inspire writers of all experience levels to deepen their process and practice. Each workshop has a limited enrollment to maximize interaction among the instructor and students.
January 9 Character: Uncovering Complexity
Meet 17th-century Dutch artist Judith Leyster through her Self-Portrait as you probe how details help create rich, compelling characters.
January 16 Setting: The Power of Place
Step inside 20th-century African American artist Hale Woodruff’s Georgia Landscape as you explore the literal and metaphorical role of setting in writing.
January 23 Story: Arcs of Action
Dive into 20th-century African American artist Hughie Lee-Smith's Confrontation as you imagine multiple narratives from a single source.
January 30 Dialogue: Spoken and Unspoken
Give voice to the characters in 20th-century American artist Mary Cassatt’s The Boating Party as you experiment with crafting effective dialogue.
February 6 First Person: Monologues and More
Give voice to the figures in The Mother and Sister of the Artist and to the painting’s creator, 20th-century French artist Berthe Morisot.
Surface is a teaching artist, playwright, and theatre director and producer. She presents workshops nationwide in creative writing, reflective writing and drama as a Kennedy Center teaching artist and museum educator. She was a faculty member at Harvard’s Project Zero Classroom.