Writing the West at AMWA
DIY Writing Prompts
Parlors and Tunnels
Visit one of the Museum’s three Victorian parlors and observe its contents. Traditionally, the Victorian parlor was a space dedicated to a property owner’s worldliness. It was filled with curiosities, international oddities, exotic book collections, and more. Write a scene describing a character’s parlor. What’s in it? Books and bird skulls, astrolabes and fine furniture? What’s its mood? Brooding, erudite, celebratory? What do we learn about this character?
Progress & Protest
Look at the image of Jessy Bushyhead and consider how Native Americans were asked/told/forced to assimilate to American customs. Then, turn that same lens inward and look at how you are asked/told/forced to assimilate to the West. Is it through the media, laws, food, clothing, religion, transportation, war? Is there a Way of the West? If so, do you subscribe to it?
Western Color Palette
Think about the colors you’ve witnessed as being most prevalent in the Mountain West, Southwest, or West Coast and create a color palette of one of these regions. Then, pick a painting whose subject matter looks to be from the same region. Is its color palette similar or different than what you described? Write down your observations.
Working the Mine
Choose a painting that strikes you in some way. Mine the painting of its details, such as colors, composition, subject matter, theme, or all of the above. If it helps, make a list of your findings. Then, use the heat of your imagination to smelt out a piece of writing from this ore. If there’s time, use the same raw materials to write another piece, only this time use a different genre, or a different form within the same genre as your delivery method. What do you notice? What happens, if anything, when you switch forms using the same material?