2020 FYE Summer Reading
Illustrating Stories of Your Life and Others

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Todd Webb, Photogram, 1969, gelatin silver print (photogram) mounted on board, 10 1/8 x 13 3/8 inches, The Jack Shear Collection of Photography at the Tang Teaching Museum, 2017.41.244
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All incoming Skidmore students are reading Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang in the summer of 2020 as part of their First-Year Experience (FYE).

Chiang describes the eight stories as “thought experiments” that challenge our assumptions and engage our curiosity about fundamental human truths and the nature of time, loss, beauty, and knowledge.

We invite students to illustrate each story in the book using images of objects from the Tang collection.

Below are eight sections, one for each story, that feature artworks selected by students and faculty to express an idea or emotion inspired by their reading. Each artwork is from the Tang collection; the captions explain a bit about the connection between the artwork and Chiang’s stories.

We hope that viewing this project will spark curiosity, reflection, and conversation for you as well.

How to Participate!

1. Read through our close-reading exercise here

2. Browse the Tang collection for objects you would like to use to illustrate each story here

3. Submit the URL, or link, of the artwork you selected, along with two to three sentences on why you chose that particular work to Olivia Cammisa-Frost, Special Events and Publications Manager, at ocammisa@skidmore.edu

Tower of Babylon

Understand

Division By Zero

Story of Your Life

Seventy-Two Letters

The Evolution of Human Science

Hell Is the Absence of God

Liking What You See: A Documentary

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Close-Reading Exercise: Visualizing Text as Art with Stories of Your Life and Others

We invite you to choose an artwork from the Tang collection to illustrate Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. When presenting artwork to a new audience, museum educators often use a close-looking exercise called Visual Thinking Strategies to discuss observations. Based on this method, the following questions are examples of things to think about when making your selection.

• Think about what art medium could best visually represent your thoughts about each story in Stories of Your Life and Others. Do you envision a photograph, painting, print, sculpture, or installation?

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• Does the story feel like it could be set in the present, past, or future?

• What images come to mind while reading the story? What physical descriptions of objects or symbols does Chiang provide in the narrative?

• What type of environment—geographical area, a specific landscape, or architecture—do you imagine? What does it feel like to be in this place you imagine?

• What colors does the story evoke? Are they muted or vibrant? Are they dark or bright?

• Chose a character and imagine you were them, what feelings would you have? What other types of experience can you relate to those emotions?

• What do you imagine the characters look like? Do they have a certain style? How do they dress? How do they accessorize?

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