Expressions Through Literature and the Visual Arts

By John Stran 

What do visual and literary arts have in common? The answer: they both have a home within the Words Made Visible project, a brainchild of Lit Youngstown.

Founded in 2015, Lit Youngstown is a local, literary nonprofit group that holds different writing events within the community.

Karen Schubert, the founder of Lit Youngstown, said her motivation for doing the Words Made Visible project is to create visibility for literary arts as well as open the gates of the literary community to the public.

“I want to let writers know they have a community here in Youngstown,” Schubert said. “I also want to invite people who are thinking about writing to give it a try.”

The goal is to gather roughly 100 various literary pieces written by locals of all walks of life. Eight pieces are then picked for two events.

Half of the pieces chosen will be morphed into posters and given away at the Summer Festival of the Arts at Youngstown State University. The other half will be stamped into to the sidewalk, possibly on Phelps Street, in front of Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts. Literature besides the eight pieces will be used for various projects in the downtown area.

Lori Factor, the director of the Summer Festival of Arts, said she hopes that Lit Youngstown’s contribution to the festival will help the organization connect with more people and allow them to flourish.

“This project is going to be different than many of the genres of art at the festival,” Factor said. “The Lit Youngstown organization is showing what literary arts can achieve in a community.”

Factor said that the project bridges the gap between visual arts and literature. She goes even further to say that because there are so many different art forms showcased during the festival. A connection is made between literature and a variety of creative activities.

Dragana Crnjak, associate art professor at Youngstown State University, has rounded up 15 students to create illustrations to go along with the collected poems. The students get to pick any piece that speaks to them and then design whatever they please.

“The project is a great way to engage students with the local arts,” Crnjak said. “It helps expose them to a wide range of writing.”

The pieces her students are making will be presented for an entire month at the Soap Gallery in February 2018.

Words Made Visible is a single project, yet it cannot be tracked down to one single event. Shubert described the project as one piece with a few moving parts.

This was Lit Youngstown’s intention: to intertwine with the downtown area of Youngstown and bloom amidst the local artists.

“I’ve always felt that one of the best things about living in Youngstown is the thriving arts scene,” Schubert said. “I want Lit Youngstown to be a part of that.”

All are eligible and encouraged to enter the contest, which has an approaching deadline of April 30. Log onto to read up on further guidelines for submission.