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Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

An Eastern University student begins freewriting for her art analysis essay at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

Writer and composition instructor, Rebecca Gidjunis visits the Magic Gardens with her students. Rebecca shares her stories about writing: As a kid, I was an avid reader.  I would get my hands on whatever books I could -- Shel Silverstein’s poetry, a stack of my dad’s Hardy Boys books, or instant classics like Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry. I found a mysterious beauty in books -- the kind of beauty you can smell when you walk into a quiet library or a giant art museum.  

But as a budding writer, I was overwhelmed by the power of art.  How would I ever be able to create something so riveting, so moving?

When students enter my writing classes, they often have a similar experience of being overwhelmed by the prospect of writing something good. So I take advantage of the world that is right on our doorstep at Eastern University, and we head to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, an incredible installation of tiled mosaics by community artist Isaiah Zagar. Sometimes, Isaiah comes out to chat with us about his work. “Making art is like choosing what you want to wear on a date,” he says.  

And he’s right: we have so much invested in the experience of creation that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. As my students and I sit in the midst of these glittering shards of mirrors and china with our journals in hand, we realize that there is really only one way to begin, and that is to simply begin.

Trips like these to the Magic Gardens help demystify the writing process. The help us realize that inspiration is literally “breath,” the holy spirit’s infusing of the world around us into our art, our work.

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