Building A Narrative 

Our second day in Washington, DC centered around the art of storytelling. We all encounter stories every day, whether they are in the books we read, movies we watch, or narratives we follow on social media. Taking large, complex ideas, breaking them down, and synthesizing them into new non-fiction narratives requires every bit of imagination that we might expect of creative writing. 

In his workshop on storytelling, Tim Wendel showed us how writers use scenes and summaries to keep the reader’s attention. Judy Landau taught us the fundamentals of object-based learning and how to find the “big idea.” I was able to pull from both of these presenters today while completing an assignment at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery. 

We were told to choose a portrait that spoke to us before partnering up with a classmate to create a story combining both of our historical figures. I chose scientist Albert Einstein and my partner chose opera singer Denyce Graves. We were able to draw up the lessons from the earlier workshops to help us to connect these two figures not only from different disciplines, but from different time periods. As a museum professional, my take away from today will be the incredible importance of a cohesive and easy to follow narrative. 

Albert Einstein at the SAAM/NPG

It was interesting to see how my partner and I were able to work together to help each other to understand the indvidual vision that we had for our story . This was a bit of a challenge at first, but with a little time, we were able to come up with a linear narrative. This assignment was great practice for pulling together our final group project!

Denyce Graves at the SAAM/NPG