New Stevens exhibit features readable art

by Lizzie Norgard

For those who attended the Stevens Gallery opening last Tuesday, a game of “tell-a-picture” awakened the spirit of the art now on display.

Tell-a-picture is an amusing game which involves alternately writing sentences describing pictures and drawing pictures based on sentences composed by other members of the group.

It introduced the theme of “readable art”—art that incorporates text into its composition. The readable art in the Stevens Gallery is a combination of open submissions from the campus and work from the World Literature 120 class: Myth, Folktale and Children’s Literature.

The use of text in the submissions varies widely in its form and meaning. Many pieces in the exhibit are complete stories, usually containing pictures and sometimes bound as books.

The pieces from World Literature 120 are designed as children’s books and tell original children’s stories, complete with binding and pictures. Several submissions from Book Arts classes are also on display.

There are other pieces telling stories as well, though they are not in the form of bound books. Still others use words without arranging sentences or a coherent narrative.

First-year Alex Kerr’s children’s book, entitled “Billy is Brave,” is displayed with the World Literature 120 pieces.

“My favorite books as a kid were the ones where the hero won by being clever or the stars aligned somehow to provide him with exactly what he needed,” Kerr said in an e-mail.

“I was trying to make a story where Billy brought all these random items prepared for one thing—each with a given purpose—and they all ended up being used for another.”

Describing some of his design strategies, Kerr said, “Ms. Wei-Peng taught us a lot about emphasis of the character’s location on the page.

“I wanted to keep Billy small but in the center so that he looked weak but significant. Also, all the motion heads to the right and on to the next page, which we were taught indicates progression towards adventure.”

The curators of the Stevens Gallery, junior Margot Wielgus and senior Shelby Blessing, said that they developed the idea for the readable art exhibit when the professor of World Literature 120 asked to have her students’ work on children’s literature put on display.

They agreed and called for open submissions from the campus via the student list serve for any kind of readable art.

As they generally do, the curators put everything they received on display.

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