The Six-Word Memoir Blog

Classroom of the Month: Parsons Senior Illustration

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

By Larry Smith


One of my favorite days of the year is the day I hang out with Lauren Redniss’ Senior Illustration Class at Parsons School of Design in NYC. It’s a special day, in part, because it’s such a thrill to see Lauren inspiring her students in her classroom; she’s a brilliant artist and author in her own right—check out her latest book, Radioactive, your basic love story as seen through the birth of nuclear technology, with a nod to the periodic table. Lauren’s also one of the first people I asked to create an illustrated Six-Word Memoir when our first book of sixes was in the making (her “I never did learn to swim” is featured in Gallery of Sixes, found on the Six-Word Memoir project).

Each year, I meet the Parsons Senior Illustration students and take them through the story of the Six-Word Memoir project, including its evolution to more visual forms. We talk about what makes a good story, be it long or short, text or graphic, and then Lauren gives out the assignment: tell the story of your life, or one aspect of it, in an illustrated Six-Word Memoir. A week or so later, an astounding collection of images arrive in my in-box. Last year, we decided to make a book of the class’s work—you can take peek or even buy it at Blurb.com (not a bad gift for the artist in the family). One of my goals for 2012 is to launch a Six-Word Memoir project with art schools of every size, level, and description across the country, and then abroad.

Below are just a few works of Six-Word Memoirs from the young, talented, spirited students at Parsons. From top to bottom: Delaney Gibbons (above), Julie Pinzur (who created the cover on our book), Hazel Santino (below, left), Slim Lopez (below, right), and Rachel Ruiz Levit.

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Note: With the generous support of our publisher, Harper Perennial, we’ve created two Six-Word Memoir lesson plans, one for our first book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, as well as one for our teen book, I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure. Download a free PDF of either or both below. In return, all we ask is that you let us know how six words works in your class. We love sharing your stories with the rest of the SMITH community.

Teachers Guide: First Six-Word Memoir book (click to download)
Teachers Guide: Teen Six-Word Memoir book (click to download)
Video: “Six Tips for Writing Six-Word Memoirs.”

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5 responses

  1. Meg Wolff says:

    I love YOUR idea AND these beautiful works of ART & HEART!

  2. Meg Wolff says:

    Do I have to be in art school to submit one?!

  3. sonia says:

    6 words:this is super duper very cool!

  4. Students: Submit to New Book of Illustrated Six-Word Memoirs from SMITH & TED! | Memoir | Biographile says:

    [...] Submit though October 15, 2012, and your illustrated memoir could appear in the eBook “Things Don’t Have to be Complicated: The Art of Six-Word Memoirs by Students of the World,” to be published in early 2013 by TED Books, a division of TED Conference. The book will be the eighth in the Six-Word Memoir series and available through the TED Books app for the iPad, Kindle, and Nook. For more information, including rules, click here; for inspiration, check out Smith’s Facebook gallery and their Six in Schools blog. [...]

  5. 6-Word Memoir | SLIM LOPEZ says:

    [...] http://www.smithmag.net/sixwordbook/2011/11/08/classroom-of-the-month-parsons-senior-illustration/ [...]

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