MU Art and Writing Students Open Unique Exhibit

"Reicprocal Ekphrasis" Exhibition of Art and Poetry

Art often imitates life, but a special exhibition by five Methodist University student poets and eight student artists will exhibit how art can imitate art. The first-of-its-kind exhibition features reciprocal work based the creative expressions of poets and visual artists.

Methodist University invites the community to attend an opening reception for the exhibition, titled “Reciprocal Ekphrasis: Images and Poems, Poems and Images,” on Feb. 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the university’s Union-Zukowski Lobby and Gallery.

“Ekphrasis” comes from Greek and refers to a literary response to a work of art. “Reciprocal” was added to the title, so students would respond not only with literature, but also with art.

“This is the first time that the MU Art Department and the Writing program have collaborated,” said Writing Professor Robin Greene. “Also, this is the first time (of which I’m aware) that students responded creatively to each other’s work—”

“— works that were distinctly different in their form, creation, and vocabulary,” added Art Professor Vilas Tonape.

Greene and Tonape organized the creative collaboration in which students responded anonymously and creatively to each other’s work with either a poem or an image.

Students in Greene’s poetry class interpreted and internalized images from Tonape’s students to respond emotionally and intellectually to the images.

“This process of responding requires that our students bring to bear technical knowledge of poetics ­– such as how to control their lines, how to allow verbal images do ‘effective work’ and how to edit so as to distill the essence of their responses,” said Greene.

Tonape’s students did the same with the poems, forming images from what they could feel when reading the poems.

He believes that anonymity was key during the process. Knowing nothing about the writers of the poems helped the students focus on the real feelings within the lines of poetry rather than the person who wrote it.

“That feel for a visual artist is in images, sometimes vague, sometimes otherworldly,” he said. “Plus, as per the grammar of painting, the images had to manifest on canvas in their own style. So, the entire process was quite palpable for painters.”

The exhibition will be on display until Dec. 14, 2020. For more information, contact Tonape at 910.630.7106 or

Photo: “My Other Half” by Sierra Romero (acrylic on canvas)