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University of Iowa News Release


April 10, 2009

Wood and Sunstein read for 'Word Painter' event April 24

Cutter Wood, a graduate student in the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program (NWP), will read alongside UI English and education faculty member Bonnie Sunstein at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 24, in the Old Capitol Museum's Senate Chamber.

The free, public event is the final in the University of Iowa Museum of Art's (UIMA) spring 2009 "Word Painter" reading series.

Wood, a Pennsylvania native who received his undergraduate degree in English from Brown University, said he will likely read from his essay, "Twelve Failures of the English Language," part of a series called "Things I Don't Like and Why."

"I just felt like I had some issues with the world and I wanted to air them out," he said. "I thought about doing a follow-up series on things I do like, but that didn't sound as fun."

For his art-based essay, which the "Word Painters" program stipulates writers produce to receive their full honorarium, Wood is developing a piece about Jackson Pollock's "Mural." That celebrated abstract expressionist painting has received attention nationwide since 2008, when, at the request of the Board of Regents, the university prepared an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of deaccessioning -- the art museum term for selling -- the work.

In preparation for the essay, Wood said he plans to go see "Mural" at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, where, after nearly nine months in storage in Chicago, the piece is back on display in Iowa as one of 22 paintings in the UIMA's exhibit "A Legacy for Iowa: Pollock's 'Mural' and Modern Masterworks from the University of Iowa Museum of Art." The show, which runs from April 19 to Aug. 2, is the first in the partnership between the UIMA and the Figge, which will host UIMA-organized exhibitions and store the UIMA collection until a permanent museum space in Iowa City becomes available.

Sunstein is the author of "FieldWorking: Reading and Writing Research," now in its third edition, as well as five other books that are popular among teachers and writers. She has taught writing classes for more than 40 years. Before coming to Iowa in 1992 she taught in public schools and colleges throughout New England, and she still teaches regularly at institutes across the country. Her chapters, articles and poems appear in professional journals and anthologies. Sunstein has received grants from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Council of Teachers of English.

For her "Word Painter" reading, Sunstein said she will read a few excerpts from her professional writing that show how a nonfiction writer, even an academic, tries to render real life and research into artful images without losing her own voice.

Created in the fall of 2006 to foster writing about the visual arts, the UIMA "Word Painter" (formerly Writer-in-Residence) Program invites four Master of Fine Arts candidates from the UI Nonfiction Writing Program to the museum for a three-month residency. The 2008-09 "Word Painters" were selected by Meghan Daum, a well-known novelist and essayist and a weekly columnist for The Los Angeles Times.

Each UIMA "Word Painter" receives an honorarium to work on various writing projects, including an art-based essay. They also read from their work throughout the academic year with well-known writers from the faculty of the UI's famed writing programs.

The April 24 "Word Painter" reading is sponsored by Alden Lowell Doud. For more information on the UI Museum of Art, including updated event listings, visit

The Nonfiction Writing Program is part of the Department of English in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. For more information visit

For UI arts information and calendar updates visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

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