Amherst Storybook Project

Become a part of the story...

 

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 Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, to create a picture book celebrating the town's current residents while paying homage to Amherst's deep roots in literature and children's book illustration. Luminarium invited the greater Amherst community of all ages to contribute and to join the company for its culminating performance at the end of the 2015 Season.

 

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 entries were highlighted on Luminarium's facebook page, and at the end of the gathering period, 12 images were selected to continue on. (All ages were welcome to submit artwork, though preference was given to ages 0-17 for this section.)

 

 

Phase 2: Reimagining of the Artwork

Next, Guerra 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 ages were invited to participate in this phase of the project. Writers chose images that most inspired them from Guerra's gallery (below), then submitted creative poems and short stories in response. Selected stories were highlighted on Luminarium's facebook page, and at the end of the gathering process, one writing piece per image was selected for the final book. 

 

 

Phase 4: Book Creation

With her experience of laying out professional national publications as Art Director of Art New England magazine, Guerra spent the next month designing a picture book featuring her reimagined images of the company (crediting the original artists whose work contributed to Guerra's creation), alongside their corresponding short stories and poems (crediting the writers). This book is now available for public purchase online, with all profits going towards Luminarium's future Cultural Community Outreach Projects.

 

 

Phase 5: Culminating Presentation

The goal of this project was to pay homage to Amherst's deep history in children's illustration and literature while uniting the creative minds of all ages with ties to the region.

 

To accomplish the final step of connecting the project's many artists and writers, Luminarium returned to the Eric Carle Museum in late Fall with a culminating afternoon of short family-friendly dance performances. Audiences watched as the dancers performed in front of all images submitted through Phase 1 of the project, then joined the company for a brief Q&A about the creative process (where many excellent questions came from the youngest in attendance!).

 

This culminating event was a treat for everyone: The young artists were introduced to the older writers who wrote about their images, and the company members introduced themselves to all the contributors—sharing anecdotes about the process of creating the final images. Before long, all were signing each others' books and forging new friendships and connections within the greater Amherst community. Beautiful!

 

 

 
#1: "Eve"
#1: "Eve"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performer Brittany Lombardi, with artwork by Julia Griffin, age 29. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#2: "Bursting (with Joy)"
#2: "Bursting (with Joy)"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performers Tyler Catanella and Amy Mastrangelo, with artwork by Hayden Rodrigues, age 7. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#3: "Jack be nimble"
#3: "Jack be nimble"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performers Brittany Lombardi, Chun-jou Tsai, Tyler Catanella, Amy Mastrangelo, and Melenie Diarbekirian, with artwork by Joshua Donovan, age 14. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#4: "Morning Rituals"
#4: "Morning Rituals"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performer Melenie Diarbekirian, with artwork by Kalyani Kastor, age 17. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#5: "How it feels to move"
#5: "How it feels to move"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performers Nikki Girroir and Chun-jou Tsai, with artwork by Sunali Rae Driver, age 2. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#6: "Party Lights"
#6: "Party Lights"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performers Tyler Catanella, Melenie Diarbekirian, and Amy Mastrangelo, with artwork by Maya Guerra-Greene, age 2. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#7: "Red Riding"
#7: "Red Riding"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performer Nikki Girroir, with artwork by Johanna R. Guiod, age 12. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#8: "Summer"
#8: "Summer"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performers Nikki Girroir, Gabby Pacheco, Nikki SaoPedro-Welch, and Alison McHorney, with artwork by Tsukiko Tome Bhowmik, age 7. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#9: "Bringing in the dawn"
#9: "Bringing in the dawn"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performer Gabby Pacheco, with artwork by Libby Smith, age 5. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#10: "Beneath"
#10: "Beneath"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performer Alison McHorney, with artwork by Marit Gubrium, age 7. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#11: "Creativity in Motion"
#11: "Creativity in Motion"

Composite photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performer Merli V. Guerra, with artwork by Piper Nyala, age 2. Photographic elements shot by Kimberleigh A. Holman. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom
#12: "Honey Hands"
#12: "Honey Hands"

Photograph by Merli V. Guerra. Part of the "Amherst Storybook Project." Featuring performer Kimberleigh A. Holman, with artwork by Emilia K. Mann, age 17. © Luminarium Dance Company 2015.

press to zoom

 

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.