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Images of folk tales explored in WMU art show

Feb. 3, 2011

KALAMAZOO--Images of folk tales are brought to life and depicted in a mixture of light and dark in an exhibit of works by artist Nancy Stroupe in the second floor gallery of Western Michigan University's College of Health and Human Services.

The exhibit, "Once Upon a Time: Scenes from Childhood--Folktales Revisited," is on display until March 14 and reveals Stroupe's perspective of the dark and light sides of familiar folk tales. It can be viewed from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

"Last fall, I was invited to participate in an exhibit examining folktales from an adult perspective," Stroupe says. "As I was preparing for the show, I dreamed one night that 'Hansel and Gretel' was about the Holocaust. A bizarre notion, but upon waking I thought, 'Yes, they were innocents driven from their home to die in an evil way, and yes, there was the oven of the witch ... and those other ovens.' I realized that folktales at their darkest could be analogues for our societal horrors."

But there's a lighter side to the show as well. The works, many of which portray Stroupe's family life, invite viewers to remember times when children are free to be themselves and be their best selves in safety and innocence.

Stroupe, a resident artist at Midtown Gallery in downtown Kalamazoo, began as a painter and moved on to lithography, relief prints and collage. Recently she has hand printed tiles and returned to painting on tile and canvas. She is drawn to images that suggest something beyond the apparent, reflecting her studies in literature, psychology and theology and work as a minister and counselor.

Stroupe has taught English and general studies at WMU and earned a master's degree at the University. She has a bachelor's degree from Grinnell College and a master's of divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary. Her husband John is WMU professor emeritus of English.

For more information, contact Gay Walker at (269) 387-3839 or gay.walker@wmich.edu.

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Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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