Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2014

Department 1



The “art poem” is an intriguing form of poetry. In writing about something that is inherently visual, a poet must remold a work of art into new material, drawing upon the work’s elements of form such as color, line, use of light, contrast, and composition to make his or her own reflective statement, beyond simply describing the artwork’s own content. In my poetry I aim to take this model of the “art poem,” and, through extended experimentation with this idea of ekphrasis (writing about art in a poetic context), intend to suggest a more intimate connection between art and language.

This collection of poetry was inspired by the life and paintings of Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian Baroque artist studied frequently by feminist art historians for her professional success in a predominantly male art world. Of particular examination is her rape trial in 1611, when her father and mentor, Orazio Gentileschi, charged her painting tutor Agostino Tassi for taking her virginity. It is often noted that, in giving her testimony, Artemisia was subject to thumbscrew torture in order to “verify” to the court her claim of rape. The case was ultimately dropped, and she was married off to Florentine artist Pierantonio Stiattesi, subsequently moving from Rome to Florence and later to Naples. The character of Artemisia as an artist, traveler, woman, and mother is a voice I revisit in my poems, using both her life and my own experiences as a foreigner abroad to reinterpret her legacy in a modern context. Other themes I explore from this storyline include the emotional complexities of family, the relationship between nature and art, and the place of the female traveler as an “other” in the global community.


English Honors Thesis