Feb. 2, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 10

"Once Upon a Time...The Modern Fairytale" collaborators Russell Dauterman (right) and Katharina "Kat" Riehle (standing left in photo below) at the opening of their exhibition last week. (Photos by Lee Pellegrini)

At This Show, Every Picture Does Tell a Story

Students' exhibition at Bapst illustrates different approach to narrative

An exhibition now on display in the Bapst Library Student Gallery features a collaboration by two Boston College undergraduates that seeks to give a contemporary take on the art of storytelling.

"Once Upon a Time...The Modern Fairytale," which opened Jan. 25, combines two sets of works by juniors Russell Dauterman and Katharina "Kat" Riehle. Dauterman's "Six" uses the comic book-graphic novel approach to present a fantasy/sci-fi tale, while the narrative in Riehle's "I Wake" is an abstract blending of words and photos.

"We wanted to put storytelling, an ancient form of communication, in a very modern context," explains Dauterman, an art and communication major from Cleveland. "Kat and I each came up with a concept that combines fine art, pop culture, graphic design and other elements with the story."

"I Wake" uses photo montages integrated with fragments of text, in varying fonts and sizes. Riehle, a Barrington, Ill., native who majors in studio art and English, says that "I Wake" - which she describes as a chronicle of "the persistent contemplation of displacement" - represents a very conscious departure from her usual form of expression.

"I've always liked to write - I didn't really start getting involved in art until I was a senior in high school. I wanted to create a project that would rely as much, or more, on images instead of written language. The words and letters become shapes, which communicate not as legible representations but in a purely visual way that enhances the expressiveness of the image as a whole.

"In the end, this is a visual conversation that sets out to build an emotional exchange between author and reader."

"Six" was produced as a series of comic book pages by Dauterman, who says he has been drawing "since I could pick up a pencil." The premise of the story, which derives somewhat from the popular "X-Men" comic book, concerns six young people with extraordinary psychic and mental powers who are enrolled in a covert government program that purports to nurture such gifted individuals and enable them to help society. Unbeknownst to the "Six," they face great danger from sinister forces within the government.

It is presented as a work in progress - some pages lack shading or other final details - to offer viewers a better sense of Dauterman's approach to his art.

"The final product will include text, such as the 'word balloons' for each character," says Dauterman, who is planning to complete this first issue of "Six" by the end of the academic year. "But if you focus on the drawings, look at the characters' faces and actions, you can pick up on what's happening."

Riehle and Dauterman credit Asst. Prof. Sheila Gallagher (Fine Arts) for encouraging them to put together the projects exhibited in "Once Upon a Time." Gallagher helped lead the effort to convert the balcony area in lower Bapst into what is now the Student Gallery, which opened in the fall of 2004.

"Once Upon a Time...The Modern Fairytale" will be on view through Feb. 28. The gallery is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1-6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information call ext.2-3200.

-Sean Smith

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