A Lesson in Creativity
By Jim Conti (07)
#15 from Six
Walking into Bapst Library is like walking back in time. The trademark Gothic architecture of Boston College stands out against the skyscraper backdrop of Boston itself. Similarly, much of the decorative art found in academic buildings, residence halls, and libraries harks back to a more traditional, familiar style. Bapst Library, in a wonderfully exciting move, has taken a step away from this. Rather than continuing into the traditional stone-walled Gargan Hall, hang a left or right into to the Bapst Art Library Student Gallery. There, you will find a world of modern art at its best. The recent exhibit, “Once Upon a Time…The Modern Fairytale,” is an exhibit of two graphic novels, “Six” by Russ Dauterman (07) and “I Wake” by Katharina Riehle (07), both of which incorporate inspiration and talent to show Boston College student artists at their best.
Six is the story of five psychic young people, recruited to be part of the Psychic Development Initiative, a government agency designed, in a way, after the ROTC program. Influences from comic books, pop culture, and other art forms, Dauterman says, have played a major role in formulating the look and inspiration behind the book, as well as a large part of his own personality coming into the work. Done completely by hand and in pencil, the first edition of Six is a beautifully drawn depiction of an exceptional teenage experience. Psychic abilities aside, Dauterman portrays many of the common emotions and tragedies of teenage-hood through his illustrations. Even though this edition is yet to be finished, with many drawings still only outlined or partially begun, love, friendship, fear, and everything in between are masterfully drawn out in these selected pages.
Absence from I Wake
Coming from a very different artistic medium choice,
I Wake is a photographic and textual journey through adolescence, specifically addressing
the issues of isolation, loneliness, and loss of self. “I wrote the story of I Wake with the intention of visually communicating its emotional substance to a reader,” Riehle says, “I wanted to make a book to make the conversation between artist and audience more personal and intimate, since the display of my own emotions and feelings makes me vulnerable.” The photographs and words used by Riehle act more as images than the messages they read as. Utilized for shape and size, the words add both text and structure to the piece. Unlike Dauterman’s work, Riehle decided to enlarge her art, stating, “If you look at them big, every flaw and pixel is out in the open; drawing a parallel, my emotions were out there for everyone to see, which is a risk I took by enlarging the pages, a risk which I didn't think I wanted to take but I suppose I'm glad I did.”
Both extremely talented artists cite Boston College professors as inspiration and support for their work and creativity. Professor Sheila Gallagher, of the Fine Arts Department, allowed both students to truly dive into their own creative wells, urging them to produce art that truly was “them.” Other professors, such as Professor Michael Mulhern of Fine Arts and Professor Bonnie Rudner of English, also had profound impacts on the young artists.
Six and I Wake both fall under the category of graphic novels. Graphic novels are loosely defined as any book incorporating pictures, images, or drawings as part of the actually story or message. Dauterman identifies his work as a more traditional graphic novel, while also saying Six is a mix of “Marvel-commercialable with a fine art background.” Riehle’s I Wake is more of a new front for the graphic novel genre. She says of her work, “I didn't set out to create a 'graphic novel' I just wanted to tell a story through pictures; the term was assigned to the project later.” Dauterman praises the genre as a whole for the general depth and sheer volume of art and artistic expression that fall within its bounds.
In looking at the current library collections, both Dauterman and Riehle noted a great fine arts collection here on campus, located in Bapst Library. “I can get lost looking through the books,” Dauterman notes. With the rise of the graphic novel as a larger art genre than just comic books, both students see room for expansion within the collections, as well as additions of computers and space for the production of more graphic novels by other students here on campus.
Dauterman and Riehle exhibit some of the truly amazing and gifted talent here on campus. They work with inspiration, creating art that truly has a passion behind it. Both plan on continuing with their work, hopefully getting it published. In the meantime, the Boston College community would be lucky to view more of their exceptional work.
Jim Conti has worked for one year in O'Neill Library. Russ Dauterman and Katharina Riehle are both students in the College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2007.