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Exploring the Overlap in Visuals and Poetics

Lesson Plan by Ellery Beck

Featuring: “Summer Nocturne” by Ash Goedker and Elizabeth Terhune

Audience: High School, College, or Continuing Education Visual Art Class


  1. Acknowledge the similarities and differences in how poetry and visual arts are experienced by the reader/viewer.
  2. Practice evaluating the conversations that happen between visual art and written art when paired together.
  3. Think critically about the act of basing a piece of visual art on poetry and about the act of expanding the meaning to the original piece of writing.
  4. Consider the contrasting work that visual and written art accomplishes, and how the combination of both can invoke more emotions in the viewer than with one art form alone.
  5. Transfer these skills and considerations into their own art, beginning with a piece directly inspired by a work of writing.

Lesson Suggestion:

  1. Have students observe only the visual aspect of this broadside and ask them to make a list of what catches their attention first upon viewing.
  2. Discuss as a class the different artistic elements and principles (such as color, space, texture, rhythm, balance, emphasis, and movement) that stand out to them in this piece.
  3. Discuss what work the piece of art might be trying to accomplish through using such elements and what emotions those elements invoke.
  4. Now introduce the poem to the class, reading it aloud. Ask the students to reread the piece on their own and to jot down a list of phrases and images that stand out. Discuss those impactful moments in the poem as a class after students have finished.
  5. Separate students into groups of 2-4 and ask them to discuss what images overlap between the two pieces. Ask students to consider the artistic intent between both the artist and the poet and to make a list of overlapping images/emotions being evoked between both elements of the broadside.
  6. As a class, discuss what images/ideas come to the forefront as a result of these two pieces being paired together, and jot down a list on the board of those images/ideas. Discuss first with groups, then as a class, what these two works can convey to the viewer once paired together.
  7. Discuss how this piece of art was made in response to this poem. Ask students to begin working on their own piece of art in response to the poem on this broadside. As an additional challenge, ask them to avoid the images/ideas listed on the board in their artwork, while still attempting to invoke the same emotions from their reader/viewer that the initial poem does.

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