Monday, May 31, 2010

Visual Conversation

I named this blog "Visual Conversation."  I've never written about the process.

It started about eight or nine years ago ... time flies ... with my friend Marni Lawson.  She  is an artist and was then residing in Temple, Maine.  We'd come to know each other gradually over several years.  One day, I asked her to engage in a creative experiment.  The process was ... I I took an original piece of Marni's work and created a response.  I returned her work along with my response and Marni responded to my work.  We never talked about the pieces.  There were no rules on size or medium.  There were no wrong answers.  The shared energy was tremendous.  All possibilities were in front of us.  We had two "conversations" going at the same time, so each of us always had a piece to respond to.  The original "Conversations" generated forty pieces each and took over a year to complete.

We wanted to share the process, and conversed with other artists.  Other artists began their own conversations.  The image above was a part of a short conversation I had with the late artist Susan Pomeroy.  I now call it "Memories of the Future."  It hangs in my dining room. 

We shared the process with all age levels of students to see if it worked the same for others.  It did!  Elementary school children created responses on their computers with a paint program.  They also learned how to use the computer program.  Middle school students were quickly grabbing art supplies to begin a response.  It held the undivided attention of pre-schoolers with crayons and paper.  I borrowed the art class at the local "alternative" high school.  I brought fifteen of my matted and packaged original paintings in a pillowcase.  The students all choose one blind, and got right to work.  That was amazing.  Paint conversations was all the "bad" boys wanted to do in school.  It kept them there.  I returned to the class several times to paint with them.  I cannot describe the energy.  

Marni and I decided to call the process ... BEYOND WORDS, A VISUAL CONVERSATION.

The term "visual conversation" has been part of my artist's statement for so long, it seemed appropriate.  A book we shared about the formation of ice crystals exposed to positive and negative energy ... I do not remember the title or author of the book, was published by Beyond Words Publishing Company. 

To see some of Marni's work, visit

From Marni's Website:

"It (Visual Conversation) is not about our artwork but about the energy that is created through sharing, non-verbally, with another human being.  We envision responses in movement and dance as well.  Others are responding with words to our images.  we believe that this process opens RECEPTIVE  channels that open your mind to new ways of thinking and processing information.   Ask another, and try it  yourself."



  1. Hi jennifer. I haven't stopped by in awhile and didn't realize you posted so many times. Good for you!

    I love this post and your painting. You mentioned visual conversations briefly to me before, but I never understood it quite as you've explained it here. It sounds wonderful. As usual you have me thinking...

    (ps: I still need to select my art for your exhibit. I'll try to do it soon...)

  2. Jennifer, I visited Marni's website; thoroughly enjoyed it. She is inspirational. Thanks for the link and explanation of Visual Conversations.
    Speak soon...

  3. So glad I found your site! What a wonderful concept 'Visual Conversation' and congratulations to taking it such heights.

    I volunteered for a while with developmentally challenged young people conducting arts and crafts. It was amazing what they could convey visually that they could not put voice to. Art became their 'voice'. It was wonderful....but nothing such as you have envisioned and put in place.

    Will continue to look at your of the truly most enjoyable I have found yet!

    Thanks for sharing; you've given me much to think about in the creation of and path of my artistic vision.

  4. I am so glad to have found your site. What an inspirational blog. Congratulations on the creation of 'Visual Conversation'and to the development of the concept.

    I volunteered with developmentally challenged young people doing arts and crafts. It was amazing what they could convey visually that they could not set voice to. Their visual expression in many cases was their 'voice'.

    Your blog and 'visual conversation' writing has given me needed food for thought in the journey that is my artistic venture.