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BHSU professor’s artwork takes on new life in a community-wide multimedia exhibit

 
 Dr.  Mary Caton-Rosser's original sketch of a grizzly bear.
 
 The new mulitmedia graphic developed by Caton-Rosser and Tabitha Witte.
Nearly 40 years ago, Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser spent time hiking Yellowstone’s backcountry lugging her zoom lens and snapping photos of awe-inspiring creatures – grizzly bears, eagles, hawks. Since then, those photos have taken on a variety of forms and are now part of a multimedia community exhibit titled “Trails to Tales: Seeking Sense of Place in Prints and Perspectives” that are now on exhibit throughout Belle Fourche.

“All these prints came from a group of photos that I did originally when I lived and worked in Yellowstone Park in the 1970s,” Caton-Rosser said.

In the ‘80s, utilizing her undergraduate in fine arts, she began doing illustrations from the photos. Last year, the wildlife sketches took on yet another transformation, this time into a variety of multimedia pieces created by Tabitha Witte, a recent BHSU graduate and graphic designer. The artwork, past and present, is now part of the community-wide interactive exhibit. Both the original illustrations as well as the new enhanced prints will be on display from Feb. 15 - March 31 at a variety of locations throughout Belle Fourche including: Belle Fourche Public Library, the Tri-State Museum, Patty’s Place, Belle Fourche High School, and the Green Bean.

Incorporating her current research in social media, Caton-Rosser will also have the prints posted on Flickr and Facebook page where people can virtually view and comment on the exhibit. “My hope is that it creates discussion both virtually and in person,” she said.

In addition to the artwork, the more than month-long “interactive art adventure” includes a Sunday speaker series with animal experts, a Saturday brunch presentation with Witte, and two afterschool sessions.

“I really started to think of it as a project of collaboration,” Caton-Rosser said. “It is an interactive event that can bring communities together in a variety of ways. This is something we can do in a lot of smaller towns or smaller neighborhoods in larger cities that really want to bring people together to communicate around the materials and topics we are presenting to them.”

An aspect of technology also runs at the core of the exhibit, Caton-Rosser said. During the ‘80s when she first began illustrating, she would sketch an original copy for each person interested in a print. She soon realized she could reproduce the prints, although expensive, much quicker by making one original copy and having hundreds of prints made. Today, technology has made making a print much easier and inexpensive, provided a way to easily manipulate the original, and made it possible for viewers to interact with the pieces from wherever they are. “Technology has really changed the way the product is produced and marketed,” Caton-Rosser said.

The process for the exhibit began last spring; however, the idea was sparked three years ago through conversations Caton-Rosser had with Meg English, a former BHSU adjunct instructor. English and her husband had purchased the old sandstone City Hall building and opened the Black Hills School of Woodworking and a gallery. They asked Caton-Rosser if she would be interested in doing a show with her illustrations. Caton-Rosser agreed but wanted to combine her past fine arts background with her current mass communications and social media expertise.

 

“I wanted to integrate, on top of the exhibit, the concept of being able to create community around the use of multimedia,” she said. Witte joined the process last summer while still a student at BHSU.

“(Tabitha) has been a real integral part,” Caton-Rosser said of Witte’s creation of the radial symmetry prints as well as her invention of the “Trails to Tales” title.

Witte said she chose the colors of the animals and she and Caton-Rosser chose the background colors based on their meanings. “The goal was to create interesting and unique images that still expressed meaning and a connection to nature.”

She chose the name “Trails to Tails” after the show moved to a variety of locations. “Since the viewers must travel between different venues to be able to see the full show, I felt it was kind of like they were hiking along a trail,” Witte said.

Sunday Speaker Series:

All sessions start at 2 p.m. at the Tri-State Museum

  • Feb. 17 – Animal Medicine:  Recognizing Nature’s Massages with Vickie Dowdy, massage therapist at Healing Haven in Spearfish.
  • Feb. 24 – Western South Dakota Photography Presentation with Robert Clemens, photographer, artist and owner of Robert Clemens Gallery in Belle Fourche
  • March 10 – The World’s Endangered Parrots with Greg Poulain, cofounder and director of Black Hills Parrot Welfare & Education Center in Belle Fourche.
  • March 17 – How in the world did you get that dog to do THAT? With Sharon Kirkpatrick Sanchez, a license psychologist, and instructor of psychology at BHSU and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

 

Activities

All at Tri-State Museum

  • March 2 -Saturday Brunch Trails to Tales presentation by Tabitha Witte – 10 a.m.
  • March 20 – Afterschool draw-a-buffalo contest – 4 p.m.
  • March 27 – Afterschool build-a-buffalo contest – 4 p.m.

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