Featured image of article: MacDowell Fellow Speaks To Aesthetics and Ideas Class

MacDowell Fellow Speaks To Aesthetics and Ideas Class

Students in the Aesthetics and Ideas class, which is co-taught by Jason Lambert and Ben Putnam, welcomed a guest speaker from the MacDowell artist’s residency program on Thursday.

Chana Porter is an emerging playwright, speculative novelist, and education activist. According to the New York Times, Porter “uses incongruity and exaggeration to suggest some midnight-dark truths about human life and endeavor.” 

Porter talked to the class about her work and her own educational pathway. Her most recent work is the novel The Seep (2020), a unique alien invasion story that focuses on the human element and the myriad ways in which we see, and do not see, our own world. She spent time working with students on a series of writing prompts and shared some techniques and methods to help us focus and get out of our way when trying to create.

Porter received her undergraduate degree from Hampshire College before undertaking non-residential graduate studies at Goddard College so she could continue to devote time to writing. Her current interest is the development of a screenwriting project in Los Angeles.

Porter’s plays have been developed or produced at New Georges, Playwrights Horizons, The Catastrophic Theatre, La MaMa, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Cherry Lane, The Invisible Dog, and Movement Research.

Porter is also the co-founder of the Octavia Project, a free summer writing and STEM program for Brooklyn teenage girls and non-binary youth. She has taught her embodied creativity course Writing from the Body at the University of Houston, Fordham University, Hampshire College, Goddard College, Weber State, and with Sarah Lawrence’s Global Classroom.