In a world of immediacy and information overload, it’s easy to lose sight of the time and talent that goes into the stories we see and read every day.
Storied Drawing, the summer exhibition at Saugatuck Center for the Arts, shines a light on the creative processes behind the images that fill magazines, digital screens and children’s books.
Walking into the calming gallery, the exhibit offers a space to pause and ponder: What is your story and how will you tell it? Storied Drawing, on display through Sept. 6, also shares the stories of four accomplished female artists and illustrators. Their drawings, illustrations and finished editorial work offer insights into each artist’s unique journey, artistic inspiration, style and practice.
“The world we are living in is so fast-paced and we want more and more and more,” said Whitney Valentine, education and exhibitions manager. “We want to have viewers slow down and really think about all of the creative steps and decisions that go into making the work that we see.”
Storied Drawing features the work of Libby VanderPloeg, a successful illustrator and designer; Hillery Sproatt, a painter who translates her designs onto textiles; Ginnie Hsu, an illustrator and designer who conducts research on behavioral science, emotion and visual arts; and Rebecca Green, an illustrator, artist and “make-believe maker” who authored the children’s book How to Make Friends with a Ghost.
“All of their work is really intriguing and compelling and they have huge clients and a lot of followers and fans who admire their work,” Valentine said. “They are four exceptional artists, and they are really amazing role models.”
Each artist has dedicated space in the gallery. VanderPloeg’s colorful and playful work highlights a mix of old and new illustrations and posters, including a plug for community college and a map of the Saugatuck-Douglas area made for the exhibit. A video screen in the gallery shows her process of making GIFs using Procreate and her iPad.
Sproatt’s corner includes examples of her artwork and finished blankets set up as if they were part of a home. She is a painter who enjoys seeing her art on blankets and other home goods. Her organic shapes, whimsical landscapes, and colorful prints and patterns draw connection between home and nature.
Green shares the original sketches for her book, and the entire process from the first draft to the final illustrations. Green, currently residing in Japan, grew up in Owosso, graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design, and had a solo show at the SCA in 2012.
The idea for a children’s book came to Green while walking her dog, and she initially planned to make a short zine to share with friends. Tundra, a publishing house in Toronto, Canada, discovered her early self-published version on her website and worked with her to get it in bookstores across the globe.
Green feels the best illustrations are made when we are playing and unbound, which is how her book came about.
“Even as an illustrator, I had no idea how much work went into illustrating picture books until I got my first book deal,” Green said. “How to Make Friends with a Ghost was also a passion project that turned into a published book, so my hope is that viewers appreciate and dive into their own personal projects, as you just never know where they’ll lead.”
Hsu, a Taiwan native now living in Syracuse, New York, is good friends with Green and works with acrylic, gouache and digital. She is an illustrator, designer and educator, and the exhibit showcases some of her illustrations for Breathe magazine.
A lot of Hsu’s work is based on research and her own personal style, including Zen and Asian influences. The exhibit takes a look at the editorial process and how much say clients have in the final design, Valentine said.
“We wanted to share with viewers what that really looks like,” she said. “You just see it in a magazine; you don’t think about how many steps it took to be in there.”
Besides being nationally acclaimed, the four women are creating positive, compelling work, being true to themselves and making a living doing what they love.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Valentine said. “They have to work really hard and they have all shared in some way or another how they are following their passions, and they have finally realized they are being true to their own selves.”
Saugatuck Center for the Arts
400 Culver St., Saugatuck
Through Sept. 6 with classes and events throughout the summer
sc4a.org, (269) 857-2399