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September 26 - November 18, 2005
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THE WRITER’S EYE                                                          

What is The Writer’s Eye?

The Writer’s Eye is an annual literary competition organized by the docents at the University of Virginia Art Museum, beginning this year on Monday, September 26, 2005.  Tours will be given through November 15, 2005, with all entries due at the museum by Friday, November 18, 2005 at 5pm.  Participants are invited to write either poetry or prose on selected artworks.  Entries are judged in four age categories: grades 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 and University/Adult.  Judges for entries in grades 3-8 will be both local writers and teachers from area private and public schools.  High school, adult and University poetry entries will be judged by Stephen Marguiles, art historian and poet and Sydney Blair, associate professor of creative writing at the University of Virginia.

What Will a Tour be Like?

Tours are inquiry-based and involve a variety of activities designed to highlight relationships between writing and the artworks designated for this year’s contest.  During the tour, students and docents engage in discussion relating to connections between art and writing.  For example, students may write a poem, “flesh out” characters in a painting and develop dialogue between them, or discuss similarities and differences between artists’ and writers’ narrative treatment of various themes.  Students are especially encouraged to use rich, descriptive language.  Tours are 45 minutes long with an additional 15 minutes allotted for writing, note taking and viewing the rest of the museum exhibits.  Groups will have the opportunity to see many of the works on view, although there will not be time to discuss all of them.

Do I Have to be in a Tour Group to Enter?

No.  In fact, the University of Virginia Art Museum will host two Writer’s Eye Open Houses during the contest, to support teachers, students, adults and other individuals who are interested in finding out more information on the artworks or viewing them additional times.  Participants will engage informally with museum docents to explore questions and investigate ways of thinking about the works on view.  The dates for the open houses are Sunday, October 2, 2005, from 2-4pm and Tuesday, October 11, 2005, from 2-4pm.

Selecting a Work of Art

Please note: For this year’s contest, participants may choose only from the selected works on view, marked with a blue star.  It is very important that the participants record the titles and artists, as well as other identifying information, of all the potential works that interest them.  During a tour, students will be considering which work of art they might choose to write about, although they will probably not make their final decision until later.  Every group will be provided with a packet including an entry form at the time of their visit; however, students are encouraged to return to the museum during public hours, Tuesday through Sunday from 1-5pm, in order to explore the piece they choose more thoroughly.

Entering the Contest

Each tour group will receive entry forms detailing exactly how to go about entering the competition.  Teachers, please ask your students to print clearly on the entry form, giving a complete address including ZIP code.  Entries MUST be at the University of Virginia Art Museum by 5pm on Friday, November 18, 2005.  LATE SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.


The Writer’s Eye information is available on the web.  Images of all the works chosen for this year’s competition and their information are accessible through the museum’s online searchable database.  To explore the site, visit  Entry forms may also be downloaded from the museum site; however, participants are required to visit the museum before writing about works on view.  Come experience the artworks firsthand and get your application stamped as proof of the required visit.

Notification of the Winners

Letters will be sent to all first, second, third place and honorable mention winners the week of December 11, 2005.  A reception and awards ceremony will be held in Campbell Hall on February 26, 2006 and will feature readings by the winners and comments from the judges.  An anthology of the winning entries from each category will also be printed in celebration of ALL contestants and will be sent to participating schools.

We at the University of Virginia Art Museum regard The Writer’s Eye program as a celebration of writing and the arts.  Even if students choose not to enter the competition, the opportunity to explore the connections between art and literature, as well as artist and writer, is a wonderful experience.  In this regard, everyone is a winner.

Enjoy the museum, we wish you exciting explorations and good luck!