Art of Writing Conference 12/13

Calatrava (c) Kristen Dembroski

Today, I had the privilege of attending the 26th annual Art of Writing Conference at the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is my 7th time returning. The Art of Writing Conference is a truly amazing experience where hundreds of young authors and artists, grades 1-12, come from across the state to meet at the Milwaukee Art Museum for a day of exploration and writing.

Milwaukee Art Museum (c) Kristen Dembroski

We begin the day by breaking up into small grade-level groups of about 10 students from different schools, and we tour the museum together. Our goal is to choose a few pieces of art and discuss the artist’s message while also looking for a way to connect personally to the piece. As a former docent and an Art History major, this is definitely my favorite part of the day. The students do some very deep reflecting and thinking on the art – oh you would be so proud! They have such profound and touching things to say. I never get tired of the museum tour because each group of students sees something different – even if it’s the same piece I’ve viewed with hundreds of students before them, I always hear something new.

OKeffe Milwaukee Art Museum (c) Kristen Dembroski

Later in the afternoon, we gather for a silent hour of writing or sketching. The authors generate a first draft of their writing piece, which is a 500 word personal narrative inspired by a piece of artwork we viewed in the morning. We sit at a table in the middle of the gallery – what a gift to be able to write surrounded by world treasures! After a break for pizza in the Calatrava, we engage in Writing Workshop: peer revision, editing, and writing a final copy. Then, voila, their work is published in a few short months! We all return to the museum for a ‘Book Release Party,’ and the students get a copy of their published work.

OKeffe Milwaukee Art Museum (c) Kristen Dembroski


I am very grateful for this opportunity to be inspired by the art, authors, and artists. I wish I could take all of my students every year, because it is such a unique opportunity.

By the way, there was a really cool surprise for me this year. They start the conference every year with a video about the conference and the writing process. It features video captured from previous conferences. Imagine my surprise when I saw myself up on the big screen in the auditorium! Here I am leading my group of 8th graders last fall. Of the hundreds of people there, it was neat to be in the spotlight!

Art of Writing Conference 2013 (c) Kristen Dembroski  Art of Writing Conference 2013 (c) Kristen Dembroski

If you’re interested in reading my piece, you can download it here: Dembroski Short Story

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3 Comments on Art of Writing Conference 12/13

  1. Leslie Tally
    December 4, 2013 at 6:19 am (9 years ago)

    What an interesting exhibit! This would be such a great opportunity for students; so glad yours had a chance to experience it! 🙂

  2. Name*
    October 13, 2016 at 1:56 pm (6 years ago)

    Where can we purchase the book the students created?

    • kdembro
      October 25, 2016 at 7:20 pm (6 years ago)

      I’m sorry – I don’t believe the book is for sale. You could try by contacting the admin of the facebook page here, and they may have some extras for you!


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