Literary Carousel Delights and Amuses at the MFA
Through the show-and-tell art of the ekphrastic — a literary interpretation of a piece of visual art — prominent Bay area writers penned prose and verse inspired by vintage photographs from the Museum of Fine Arts’ permanent collection last Thursday.
The wordsmiths read their original works aloud in sequence with slide photo presentations in the museum’s Marly Room.
A SunLit Festival event, presented by Keep St. Pete Lit, “The Literary Carousel at the MFA” fetched laughs, gasps and awe with a diverse range of tone and subject matter. Topics ranged from a jealous sports car to a schizophrenic actor to missives from a Nuclear Holocaust.
The photos specially curated by Robin O’Dell, Curatorial Administrator & Manager of Photographic Collections, and Todd Bates, a St. Pete-based freelance creative director and founder of the Carousel event series, took on a memorable new life.
“This iteration of Carousel was unique in that it combined images selected from the MFA photographic collection with the words of some very talented local writers,” Bates said. “I was so pleased with the outcome, the pairing worked really well and the audience loved it. I’m hoping we can do it again next year!” Let’s thank the scribes:
O’Dell told Creative Pinellas that “a selection of the photographs shown in Literary Carousel, along with a portion of the writings created for the event will be installed in Miriam F. Acheson Gallery of Photography starting on June 3rd and remaining on display for three months. It is not an ‘exhibition’ per se, but more of an installation.” The MFA St. Petersburg “also hopes to record the writers reading their pieces, which will be put on the MFA app.” Called MFA Viewpoint, it allows you to experience the Museum through virtual tours, historic articles and great recordings of each of the available pieces. (Available in both iTunes and Google Play stores)
It was a great event both for literature and photography enthusiasts, who were treated to old black and white prints, some painted with color, some gelatin silver, but all of them invoke a variety of situations and emotions.
The Museum of Fine Arts is at 255 Beach Drive N.E., St. Petersburg.