Arts & Entertainment

Dr. Julia L. Hovanec Presents on Ekphrasis

By Nichole Schleihauf
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Department chair and associate professor of Art Education, Dr. Julia L. Hovanec, presented a lecture on the various forms of ekphrasis, as well as exploring each of their values and research potentials.

Ekphrasis is a verbal or poetic response to a visual representation of art. In addition, Dr. Hovanec’s explanation of ekphrasis as a concept included reverse ekphrasis, art expressive ekphrasis, ekphrastic haiku and ekphrastic ode. 

Paint Pallet
Credit: Krystal Arroyo

The goal of ekphrasis, as Dr. Hovanec outlined, was to address a work of art and make it speak through one’s own interpretation or expression of art. Attendees of the lecture were encouraged to participate in creating ekphrasis to illustrate the simplicity and accessibility of the principle. 

The response could be both a conversation with the piece and the piece itself. What Dr. Hovanec called art expressive ekphrasis involved giving art a voice and writing as if one is speaking as the subject. This form also worked well with sculptors, as having a three-dimensional form helped with personification.

While art usually inspires poetic ekphrasis, it could also be demonstrated in the opposite way. For example, in reverse ekphrasis, Dr. Hovanec used the example of how William Carlos Williams’ plain and straightforward poetry had led artists to create what the piece illustrated to them. 

Representations of ekphrasis also included ekphrastic haiku and ekphrastic ode. This rendition of haiku followed the regular 5-7-5 pattern of haikus, as well as integrated a natural subject. The ode took a common or ordinary object and constructed a poem exploring the object through the five senses. 

In the future, Dr. Hovanec believes ekphrasis can be used to teach bilinguals, as well as a tool for art criticism. As a recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Higher Education Art Educator Award from The Pennsylvania Art Education Association (PAEA), Dr. Hovanec planned to conduct research that would be indispensable to her field.

This lecture was presented on behalf of Faculty First Thursdays from the Visual and Performing Arts Department. The next presentation featuring Dr. Dannell Macilwraith will be held on Dec. 2 in the Rickenbach Learning Center.

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