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Part-timer a winner in Words of Art

"Love and Loneliness," mixed media by Virginia Unseld. This inspired Dagny McKinley to write her short story, "Pray," that was one of 13 winners of the Words of Art Contest.
Courtesy Photo

— Dagny McKinley will be wearing a new dress when she listens to an actor read her winning short story during a performance at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre in Denver next week.

McKinley was one of 13 winners of the Words of Art Contest produced in association with the Art Students League of Denver and the Denver Art Museum.

“Forty images from regional artists that incorporated text into their work were used,” said Mare Trevathan, executive director of Stories on Stage. “We in turn put them out to the public to see if they could inspire people to write a five- to 10-minute story.”



There was one image in particular that caught McKinley’s attention.

“I was inspired by a painting of a heart that had razor blades on it and had words written through it,” she said. “I liked the darkness of it and the heart really struck me, because in relationships people are always cutting each other down, and that was really symbolic to me.”



The story McKinley wrote about the painting is called “Pray,” and is about a dysfunctional relationship between a man and a woman.

“The guy shows up on her doorstep with a kitten and a gun,” she said. “The gun is intended for her protection, but through a series of fights, she takes it from him and in the end has it rested up against his forehead. It’s up to the audience to decide whether he lives or not.”

Each of the 13 winners received two tickets to the Feb. 10 performance.

“I’m still waiting for the first paycheck for something that I have published,” McKinley said. “But who knows if that day

will ever come.”

McKinley is a part-time Steamboat Springs resident when she is not at Naropa University in Boulder working on her masters in creative writing. She currently has two novels she’s looking to have published.

“I think this contest will help in trying to get an agent and getting further with my writing,” McKinley said. “The more credits you have, the more seriously you are taken when sending out submissions.”


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