The Rhetorical Device Ekphrasis

Dog with rhetorical deviceEkphrasis is a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form, and in doing so, relates more directly to the audience, through its illuminative liveliness. Any of the visual arts can be used to highlight the vividness of what is happening, or what is described in a poem or descriptive prose. The visual arts then may enhance the original art and so take on a life of its own through its brilliant description.

For example a painting of a sculpture: the painting is “telling the story of” the sculpture and so becomes a storyteller as well as a story itself. It is the spirit of the story or poem that is retold with another medium in an authentic way and the original is impacted through synergy. (Information from

The Tri-Valley Branch of the California Writers Club has a Winterfest every two years where members send in photography, painting, sculpture, quilting, or whatever the member creates. A few assigned members choose one piece of art from each member to put on the Tri-Valley website and the other members write a poem, essay, or short story for any piece of art they choose. The written works are put up on the site with the piece of art for display to all the club members.

I entered photographs I had taken of the inside of several tulips from a friend’s garden. Notice tulips from their insides and see how different each one looks. I’m curious which of my photos will be chosen and what a member will write about it. The visual,the tulip, will be impacted by the writing.painting on body

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