Senior exhibition focuses on rural roots


Photo Andrew Shermoen

Karen Reid, a senior graphic arts major, is the creator of the new pieces in Washburn’s Art building displayed until Dec. 9. Releasing her senior exhibition, titled “Storybook Endings” Reid is interested in highlighting her love of stories and books, as well as the rural upbringing that has defined who she is.

“I’ve always had a love for illustration and, as a graphic artist, I think books are a great medium for me, especially children’s storybooks,” Reid said about her work in the exhibition.

This love of stories is the crux of Reid’s word. Small children’s books dot the exhibition hall featuring birds, turtles and snails learning valuable lessons. According to Reid, these characters have always been part of her designs, but actually making a book and giving them personality was a new adventure.

“I hope to get the books published as soon as possible,” Reid said.

In a way, Reid’s constant desire to expand her artistic horizons speaks to her fascination with stories in general. Adventure is inside of her and she embraces new challenges with gusto.

The books themselves function not only as great examples of Reid’s artistic ability, but also provide lessons for the young children that will potentially read them. “Alvin the Turtle’s book” is a story of kindness while “Herb the Bird’s story” focuses on the importance of patience. Reid’s decision to design the characters of her book around animals makes them perfect for kids, but Reid has a different reason for why she chose animals.

“I come from a rural background,” Reid said. “I have a love of animals.”

This rural background also serves to further her other work. At one end of the exhibition hall hangs a pencil sketch depicting two shoes. “Boots and Heels” places a pair of old cowboy boots next to a simple, but classy, pair of high heels. The shading on both of them focuses on the difference between the two objects, but also captures their similarities. At the end of the day, they’re both shoes. They’re job is the same, but the environment is different. “The boots are my father’s and the heels are mine,” Reid said. A bond is captured by this connection. The daughter’s shoes are different from her father’s. Their interests and paths are different, but they both share a common bond. It’s a subtle image that is energized and filled with character and charm.

That captures the central conceit of Reid’s work. It’s all a story. The story of Reid’s life, the story of her artistic journey, the story of Herb the Bird learning to pace himself. The pieces themselves tell a story. Across from one of Reid’s storybooks are three movie posters for her animal characters. The posters have a natural story for the books as an item in the real world.

All of Reid’s work is created with a love of story and narrative, a love of art and adventure. It captures Reid’s desire to challenge herself, create new material and keep pushing forward. When Reid started her children’s book project, she had never written or illustrated a book before. She took this challenge with open arms and her exhibition speaks to the challenge.