Once upon a time, EMU Seniors Katie Landis and Kayci Detweiler put on an art show in the Margaret Martin Gehman Art Gallery. They dazzled the public with their fairy tale-like artworks.
“I was always interested in fairy tales,” explained Detweiler.
A project last semester gave Detweiler the inspiration for her works. It had looked like illustrations of a children’s book. After seeing it, friends suggested to her that she should write a story for her images, and that was exactly what she did with her collage-illustrations. Her work consists of framed pictures of digitally layered collages.
Detweiler hand drew all the characters of her story, created the background herself, and combined them through photoshop. Although the process sounds easy on paper, it is a difficult task that takes months of work.
The end result is simple, almost child-like pictures that demand a more in-depth scrutiny and an interesting narrative documented in a story book. In the exhibit, the book is placed on top of a table next to a comfortable couch on which people can read it. Above the words, “The End” is painted on pieces of paper from a book.
Detweiler’s story book is a hand-made book titled “Disenchanted.” It depicts the story of a beautiful and smart girl who marries a prince. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a selfish glutton.
“[Fairy tales] always have happy endings… But I didn’t want [my story] to have a happy ending,” said Detweiler. “So I guess this is more reality based… People always ask me if there’s more after the story. But this is it.”
Junior Tessa Gerberich was really taken by the exhibit. “I’m impressed by Kayci’s spin on a realistic fairy tale. It’s easy to glamorize romantic love. The underlying idea of happiness is something you need to do for yourself.”
“I have no regrets with this exhibit,” Detweiler declared proudly. The other half of the room was set up with Apple computers and the title of the art work painted on pages of a book taped to the wall above it. On each monitor was a picture, a few inspired by fairy tales. Each picture held a little surprise for the onlookers: One component of the picture moved.
The work “Twist” has a girl frozen in time while her shadow spins and dances around. Another work has a girl and a boy on a bench, faces close to one another. Just when you think that’s all to the picture, the girl moves away from the boy, giggling, before returning to her original position.
“After taking the ‘After Effects’ class, I just had to use it for my Senior project,” said Landis. “It became an obsession to create still photos that moved. I had no choice but to do it.”
The process to create these moving pictures, more commonly known as Cinemagraphs, begins by taking a video of the subject. The artist freezes one frame of the video. Then, using the layering feature, the artist makes it so one part of the video is still showing (usually the subject) through the frozen frame. This creates the illusion of a frozen picture with a moving component.
“I’m happy with the way it came out,” said Landis. “It’s whimsical and dream-like. It’s like a fairy tale.” She mentioned that as a senior ready for graduation, she had moments when she reflected back to her childhood and wished that she could hang onto aspects of her from then. She wanted to take the viewers back to that time.
In addition to the Cinemagraphs, Landis took blurred photos of the subjects from each Cinemagraph and framed them in bright blue.
“Both works are really immersing,” commented Senior Corey Martin. “It takes you to a nostalgic time when you were a kid. It’s enchanting. You can look for a long time.”
For those of you who missed the gallery opening, I highly recommend checking this one out. And for those of you who have already been there, visit again. These are pictures that not only depict just a story or a fairy tale, but hopes and dreams of childhood.