Strike A Prose: Every Picture Tells A Story

A woman standing in front of a portrait with adults seating in a semi-circle around herPortraiture can spark more than just your imagination; portraits can tell us a story about someone’s life. “Strike a Prose” is the first interactive creative writing program for adults at the National Portrait Gallery. The second set of writing workshops begins this week.

The program includes three distinct workshop sessions, each offered twice—Friday and Saturday mornings—facilitated by an education staff member and a teaching artist. This month’s teaching artist is Willona Sloan – a published author, poet, communications professional and workshop facilitator with vast experience locally, nationally and internationally , specifically in several Canadian provinces and Reykjavik, Iceland. The workshop will use video portraiture from the “Bill Viola: The Moving Portrait” exhibition as the basis for inspiration.

We held the first sessions of this program in “The Outwin 2016” exhibition in the fall. Workshop participants used portraits by artists from across the country who submitted their work to this triennial competition as their inspiration. We asked workshop participant Monique Singletary to tell us more about her experience:

Why did you attend?

“I attended Strike a Prose to engage [with] really good art—to observe and participate in the making of its meaning through writing. I am a New York transplant and I was seeking to create my home in the National Portrait Gallery. I also wanted to be a part of a community of emerging artists. I wanted to experience the raw, rough edges of immediate experience coalesce into something more cohesive through the guidance of the participants.”

What surprised you?

“How easy it was to write. My words rushed out like a torrent to meet the paper. I must have been deeply thirsty for this experience.”

Could you share some of your writing samples from two artworks?

Highest aspiration written for “Florence and Daniel by Evan Baden, Albany, Oregon; pigment print on aluminum, 2014”

Just hold me and let me be. I want nothing more than the warm hand touching my golden hair and the weight of my slender form supported. I rest but do not want to free fall down.

Highest aspiration written for “The Valentine Dress by Thu Nguyen, Honokaa, Hawaii; oil on panel, 2014”

I want to get out of these social conventions for girls. I like the flower in my hair but I do not want to be crushed by it standing in my home spun dress.

Join us for some writing inspiration! Please visit our events calendar at to see dates and times or sign up through Eventbrite