Sunday, December 20, 2015

Amherst Storybook Project, in Review

Each season, Artistic Director Merli V. Guerra leads Luminarium's annual Cultural Community Outreach Project, which uses dance and art to highlight a local historical or cultural landmark.

For its 2015 Season, Luminarium worked in collaboration with The Eric Carle Museum of Picturebook Art in Amherst, MA, to create a picturebook celebrating the town's current residents while paying homage to Amherst's deep roots in literature and children's books. Luminarium invited the greater Amherst community of all ages to contribute and to join them for the culminating presentation that winter.

The Amherst Storybook Project grew through five phases:

Phase 1: Gathering Artwork
Ages 0 through end of high school were invited to submit their artwork to be included in the project. Selected images were highlighted on Luminarium's facebook page, and at the end of the gathering period, 12 images were selected to continue on. (All were welcome to submit artwork, though preference was given to ages 0-17 for this section.)

Phase 2: Reimagining of the Artwork
Luminarium next took these 12 images, projected them from above onto the company dancers, and created a series of photographic stills in which the dancers and art merge to create fanciful and acrobatic landscapes.

Phase 3: Writing Submissions
All were invited to participate in this phase of the project. Writers chose images created in Phase 2 that inspired them, then submitted creative poems and short stories in response. Selected stories will be highlighted on Luminarium's facebook page, and at the end of the gathering process, one writing piece per image will be selected for the final book. 

Phase 4: Book Creation
Luminarium compiled a picturebook featuring the reimagined images of the company (crediting the original artists whose work contributed to the photographs' creation), alongside their corresponding short stories (crediting the writers). This book is now available for public purchase online, with all profits going towards Luminarium's future outreach programming. It can be previewed here.

Phase 5: Culminating Presentation
Sunday, November 8 at 12:30 and 1:30pm
Luminarium returned to The Eric Carle Museum with a culminating afternoon of short performances. Audiences (of more than 150 viewers of all ages) watched as the dancers performed in front of images submitted in Phase 1 of the project, flipped through the final printed book, then joined the company for a brief Q&A about the creative process. Each showing was 30 minutes in length, and guests stayed to chat with the company, sign each other's books, and take photos with the cast. *This performance was free, and only required paying for admission to the museum.

The final 12 images and performance photos:

Click on the image below to view our photo gallery of images from the final book, and the culminating performance!

"We really enjoyed the performance at the Eric Carle and it was so much fun to meet the 7-year-old who painted the heart and all of you. The whole thing had such a great feeling to it. Your work is so creative and inspiring.
Thanks again." 
Amy Gordon, professional writer, Amherst Storybook Project participant, and audience member at the culminating performance.

Supported in part by a grant from the Amherst Cultural Council,
a local agency which is supported by the
Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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