Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT October 14th 2020

We welcomed 21 people to our virtual workshop session, including many returning participants and two newcomers. The text today was a pastel artwork by Richard Wommack, “Television Snow.” With intent, the title was withheld from the participants, who were asked to spend 2 minutes close reading the painting. Then in a break from tradition, participants were asked to consider what the title of this painting might be and to type their thoughts into the chat.

Here are just a few of the many responses: Empty Spaces, The Puzzle, Backyard Monotony, Ghost ‘burbs, Sweet Dream, Fordist Neonscape, Uniformity & Catastrophe and Radioactive Neighborhood. In the discussion that followed, feelings of isolation, sameness, and even danger due to the lack of fences were shared. Several noted the lack of human form and nature, though a sliver of purple sky was observed. The color purple that glowed was seen as either comforting or toxic. The arc of the scene and preponderance of pools (or were they basements minus rooves) prompted discussion of the surreal and dream/nightmare quality of the art. The mood was eerie, dystopian and even angry. Someone noted that this depiction of night felt like the lonliest of times, that though there were no fences to divide the inhabitants they were separate and not communicating, each in their own “castle”. The sense of smell was explored eliciting chlorine, ozonate, metallic, or simply nothing. Finally we “listened” and heard crickets, radiostatic, white noise and silence.

Writing to the prompt “Take us someplace after hours” brought us to internal spaces of “a desperate desire to matter” and an external space where “The night is about to settle…lawnmowers, leaf blowers…the stars would gradually accompany me with their stories as I arrived home.” One writer described a long day with a patient followed by dizziness and blindness that muddles our memory; another wrote a dialogic scene with two rocks in conversation that asked “Was there any life before we came? Are we the only stones to people this land?” Another writer in a medical context described “ears filled with beeps, my heart broken with death.” The group resonated with the description of stepping outside a hospital into the crisp air, a feeling like a resuscitation. Our last writer described a peaceful pandemic space (her daughter’s former bedroom) where she can “lower the light..light  my candle.” 

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.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Monday, October 19th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

Television Snow by R. Michael Wommack