Writing from Art

The Big Idea:

How can a photograph tell a story?

Activity overview

Jeff Wall is inspired by literature and art history and often alludes to particular literary or visual works in his photographs. He frequently constructs his images around a theme or idea taken from a painting or text. In this activity, students will have the opportunity to use Wall's work as inspiration for a piece of creative writing.

In this activity you will:

  1. review Wall's The Destroyed Room (1978), After 'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue (1999-2000), and In front of a nightclub (2006).
  2. select one of these photographs on which to base your writing
  3. brainstorm how you will connect this photograph to a story or play
  4. write either a short story, a play, or a film script based on this photograph
  5. share your writing with the class
  6. reflect on what you've learned

You will be graded on:

  1. quality of descriptive writing and clear expression of thought
  2. demonstrated clear link between one of Wall's works and your own writing
  3. written reflection of the activity

New terms:

Staged photography