Target for Inspiration

I’m planning to visit the Target Gallery. This is the third time I have been invited to write a short story inspired by one of its juried art shows. I have a month to get inspired and complete the story. I’ll read my new creation at a Spoken Word Performance to be held at the gallery in February.

The first time I read at Target, the Clothesline Project (a benefit to help victims of domestic violence) served as inspiration. I read a piece called Forbidden Passion, which appeared in Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine and has since grown into a novel — winner of Pitchapalooza D.C. Wish me luck on the path to publication!

When I embarked on my mission to write the second Target-gallery-inspired work of short fiction, the inspiration exhibit was called Systems Failure. The artists showed work related to the financial and mortgage crisis, environmental issues, and healthcare struggles. I expected to show up and zero in on one painting or sculpture as my inspiration. To my surprise, I found myself drawn to the exhibit as a whole. Characters inspired by portraits, settings inspired by landscapes, and metaphors inspired by surrealist and abstract expressions of emotion. It turns out I wrote characters into a horrible mess in a short story I call The House On Narcissus Street. The beauty of fiction, however, is I have the ability to write them out of it! Someday I might do just that! In the meantime…

Crafting fiction with a deadline is a challenge. Reading a rough draft or new work takes a lot of guts. At least it feels that way to me. But I’m excited to push the envelope on my creativity.

So, as I embark on my next Target Gallery challenge I’m excited, savoring the anticipation of walking into the gallery for the first time to view the new exhibit. The show is called Mixing Bowl. I’m particularly drawn to the idea of the immigration-related exhibit. Living in the melting pot of the D.C. Metropolitan area, I’m immersed in the lives of modern immigrants and fascinated with the social, political, and cultural histories of the people in my neighborhood. I love to imagine what the lives of the members of my community were like before they arrived and as they settled in. In Double Out and Back, Chandy Markum is a Jewish South African-immigrant escaping ghosts of her past in Apartheid-torn South Africa. Forbidden Passion, the short fiction I read at the Clothesline exhibit, grew into a novel that chronicles the life of an Iranian emigre from her repressed childhood in 1960s Tehran to her eventual liberation. The motivations and tribulations of the immigrant keep popping up in my fiction. There are a few characters floating around in my brain who made their way to America to escape war and persecution, to chase love, or under promise of economic prosperity. I can’t wait to see if the inspiration from the exhibit feeds the already germinating character development or sparks something entirely new!

Well, I’m off to the Target Gallery. I hope it’s inspiring!

If you”d like to find out what I come up with, you can hear me read a the Target Gallery, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, VA. Thursday February 10, 2011, 7 p.m.

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