Literary Carousel Shines at the 4th Annual Sunlit Festival
I have publicly admitted to a mild pixel addiction and perhaps I should out myself as an art junkie. Big picture, if you gotta have compulsion in your life, it's not a bad way to go! Combine that disposition with an event that combines two art forms like photography and literature and I'm in! The Sunlit Festival is a two week celebration of the written word in St. Petersburg. They call their brand of bringing together literary organizations and art disciplines "Litertainment”. Part of the 2018 fest, for the second year in a row, Literary Carousel took place at the Museum of Fine Art pairing local writers with photographs from the museum's collection to inspire new work. The event is a combination of Carousel, a semi-nomadic happening celebrating photography where 8-10 mostly local photographers show and discuss cohesive bodies of work and The Sunlit fest.
In that pursuit literary work takes center stage here. Maureen McDole led the way as Founder and Executive Director of Keep St. Pete Lit making the event (and entire festival) possible. Carousel producer Todd Bates and Curator of the MFA Photographic Collection Robin O'Dell took it from there selecting groups of photographs for the collaboration. Writers, curated by writer and actor David Warner, were then encouraged to pick some of those images with which to tell their stories and the result was absolutely Litertainment! Organizers also called it “Ekphrastic,” a literary interpretation of a piece of visual art. This year's writers/presenters included Arin Greenwood, Scott Harrell, Shane Hinton, Jeff Houck, Tenea D. Johnson, Peter Meinke, David Warner, and Sabrina Dalla Valle
Stories ranged from Dr. Leopold Scrumm's (a.k.a. Scott Harrell) depiction of fictional diseases suffered by circus performers to dark tales of Shane Hinton's Uncle Elmer who "brought them (the family) up after mother's accident", all the while playing sad Russian music in the background. The audience struggled with nervous laughter not knowing if he was trying to be funny. Frankly, I still don't know.
The evening was a delicious combo of vintage images and fresh tales. Keep an eye out for it next year. Sunlit just keeps getting better.