Hugo House writers at the Henry

The Henry was delighted to host a Hugo House workshop last quarter and we hope you enjoy the fruits of their labors.


This winter, we wrote monologues for Danny Lyons: The Bikeriders, contemplated the potential for Sanctum to change lives, and imagined abstract sculptures from Katinka Bock: A & I as people and even as shrines. In the Reed Study Center, we endeavored to unearth multiple perspectives on paintings, photographs, collages, and textiles, from the points of view of children, philosophers, art critics, and mythic and historic figures. We heard from a real live artist, Haegue Yang, whose process inspired Amber Murray’s excerpt below.

Many thanks to the Henry for hosting our Hugo House class for a third time! – Anca Szilágyi, Hugo House Instructor

Hugo House class meeting at the Henry for inspiration on their writing.
Hugo House instructor Anca Szilágyi’s (pictured) class meeting at the Henry for inspiration on their writing. Image credit Chona Kasinger



Excerpt about the Henry exhibition Haegue Yang: Anachronistic Layers of Dispersion


Thoughts on abstract thought and the practice of moving things around until they sit just right
By Amber Murray

I cried when I saw Michelangelo’s Pieta, a retrospective on Per Kirkeby, an exhibit on John Singer Sargent, and I could go on. I felt the loss. I felt the weight of their particular nuanced existential terror, and it was absolutely beautiful. I did not know these people, but I somehow knew what they were getting at. I could pick up their intention by casting my gaze over their chosen medium. Michelangelo started with a piece of carrera and shaped it into what some call his masterpiece. The folds of Mary’s gown flow over her legs forming a cradle for her dead son who lays in her lap. The figures are disproportionate – Jesus is small in comparison to Mary, but bears all the signs of a full grown man. Mary’s youth and gaze are pure grace as she looks down at the son of god resting peacefully in her lap. The marble glows from within. Death looks beautiful and sweet.

How did he do this? Haegue Yang might say practice. She is an artist who starts with an idea, then picks it apart through a very precise and personalized process of articulation. Instead of a piece of stone, Yang’s medium is the horizontal venetian blind. Each time she begins a work she asks herself “am I going to push myself over the edge?” – which I take to mean, is she going to push her mind to that abstract place of shaping form to align with a particular idea. And she does it. Usually by creating a sense of loss instead of gaining – with window coverings. I realize she is not the first person to do this. To take a common object and place it in a different environment to give it new meaning – but the precision of the idea communicated, that is what sticks with me.

installation image credit: R. J. Sanchez
installation image credit: R. J. Sanchez

What I noticed first upon entering Yang’s “Towers on String” was the delicacy – delicate strings suspend delicate rows of colored aluminum strips. Hovering, floating, cascading, from above to create a lightly formed space within a space – more like confetti captured in mid-party-surprise than anything else. But add a layer of precision and craft and there you have it. Colors and shadows and blades, all linear in form align and dis-align over one another in a mercurial polarized play. The structure, not obvious to me at first glance, is hidden deep in an armature of octagonal joints. The patterns I see are referenced in my mind to a bevy of cross cultural vernacular textile traditions, the black blinds make me think of a bachelor pad, I think of how much dust they collect and how with every apartment unit I have ever lived in I have taken then down and stashed them in a closet. Overall, I read the piece as a commentary on the attempt or oscillation of privacy that can occur as a rich modern-life-story plays out.

Read more


Wish you had taken the class? Check out this article series on writing prompts from Anca:

Writing prompts on:
Overheard Conversation at a Museum

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