Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT May 11th 2020

This was a lovely evening session with new people who joined faithful participants who return many times to discuss texts and write to prompts.

Together we looked at “Vendedora de periódicos,” a painting by Alfredo Zalce, posted below.

After introducing the painting, sans identifying information (artist, title, year), everyone looked closely for two minutes in silence. When invited to share their observations/reactions, participants commented first on the action in the left-hand corner —a falling body, a figure who had either pushed or tried to save the figure plunging to the ground, passinganother figure who appeared to attack a person or an animal. One person said it was “startling.”

Another drew attention to the figures in bolder colors—primary colors mixed with white—in the foreground, and said that the figures sheltering under a newspaper stand called to mind “classic mother and child” images. There were comments on the worker, who is dressed in a blue overall and carries tools in a bucket. Someone saw a man “who can fix things” and another saw the tools as “menacing.”

Before any details of the text were revealed, participants shared their own titles for the painting: “Taking Shelter”, “Between Me and the World”, “Working Man”, “A Mother’s Calm”, “Chaos and Security” .  After sharing a slide with the title added, we asked how words and image together changed what was seen. The Spanish title Vendedora del periódicos (Zalce, 1946) hinted at possible geographical places as well as the action of the woman selling papers and the man stopping to read the news. That brought ideas that the blurry, shapes floating at the top of the newsstand might be what the man was reading—accounts of accidents, lovers, a knife, and money changing hands.

The prompt, “Write about what is swirling in the air” brought list poems and prose rich in images and sounds. Just as people had commented on the juxtaposition of images and ideas discovered in examining the painting, participants included ordinary and extraordinary happenings and the worry, joy, fear, and uncertainty as they walk their dogs, shop for groceries, work in neonatal intensive care units, accompanied by ubiquitous thoughts of Covid-19 present on surfaces and swirling in the air. Many of the responses shared in their connection to the present moment in healthcare, and spoke of both learning how to live in that moment and desiring to escape it. One delightful wish, expressed in the writing, was for the microscopic virus to be visible as red, blue, yellow and gold glitter.

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Please join us for our next sessions: Wednesday, May 13th at 12pm EDT in English or Tuesday May 12th at 8mm EEST in Greek, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Vendedora de periódicos
(1946, painting by
Alfredo Zalce)