The Art: A photograph by Lawrence Sumulong from his series "Manila Gothic"
Lawrence discusses the portrait: “Love, 9 years old, a witness to the death of her parents Adrian and Vivian Peregrino in Camarin on August 25, 2016 during the ongoing Philippine Drug War. She has 5 other siblings and is presently staying with her aunt. Her other siblings are scattered among other relatives. This is a formal portrait that my friend, Rica Concepcion, and I set up with a gravedigger and florist to create a wreath of indigenous and popular Filipino flowers that are associated with death and funerals. This photo was taken in a church and safe house in barangay Bagong Silangan, Quezon City.” The Exercise: This portrait of Love has such power that I think it makes sense to keep our exercise simple. I've tried to keep the steps very open-ended, but have offered a bit more structure (optional) at the end if you're feeling stuck.
We'll take our classic ekphrastic start: Set a timer for two minutes and devote this whole time to observation of the artwork. No need to take notes. Just try to keep your attention in the portrait, noticing details of its composition.
Take another two minutes to write down a literal description of the photograph. Try not to look at the artwork until the end of your description. Did you miss anything? Fabricate anything? Both are fine, just good to notice.
Take another two minutes to observe the portrait, this time with particular attention to your own thoughts an feelings as they arise during observation.
Free write! This writing can take any form -- poetry, a story, stream of consciousness, or fragments of thought. If you're feeling totally stuck, maybe start from the following premise: Write a letter to Love. Please share your creations in the comments below!