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Artist Naomi Even-Aberle and storyteller Nancy Eldridge at the Art Legacy Project event at Suzie Cappa Art Center in February 2015. Even-Aberle will return as a storyteller at this week's event.

Storytelling inspires visual art for a look at women who defy traditional roles this week.

The Rapid City Arts Council and Suzie Cappa Arts Center's biannual Art Legacy Project will bring "Colorful Lives: Women in Non-Traditional Work" to the Dahl Arts Center on Sunday.

The event sees three storytellers speaking about women outside of roles expected of them while three artists are paired with them to capture something about the story: a character, a place, a feeling.

"It adds a different point of view to a person's story," said Emma Rivers, marketing director for the Dahl.

The idea came from organizer Peter Franz, whose father, a doctor, once heard a tale of Pearl Harbor's bombing from a man who was there. Franz, according to Rivers, felt there should be a way to share stories and capture the power to make it more than a storytelling event.

Themes are decided after submissions are made by storytellers and artists, with the RCAC picking a theme based on what stories were submitted. 

The stories will be told by Staci Stoddard, Naomi Even-Aberle and Fred Olsom, paired with artists Laurel Antonmarchi, Tyler Read and Cris Ness. Stoddard and Olson will both tell stories about women in solid waste management, with Olsom paying tribute to a mentor who passed away of cancer recently and Stoddard talking about her own path. Even-Aberle will speak about owning a martial arts gym.

"My story is verbal in a poetry style," Even-Aberle said. "It tells the life cycle of the story, movement and performance art aspect of martial arts."

Even-Aberle said that it highlights a mountain flower in the hills of South Korea in folklore, which she uses as a basis for the belt system in for tae kwon do. She said that she wanted to use her story as a way to create a conversation with performing arts, martial arts and visual arts.

"There's this thought process perpetuated that martial arts isn't an art form, or it's not as flexible as dance," Even-Aberle said. "I wanted to take something close to me, something that's a part of me, and showcase it as an art."

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Even-Aberle, who is also the education director at the Dahl, is paired with her co-worker Tyler Read, the art education engagement coordinator and the graffiti artist "Siamese." 

"Tyler's work is abstract and movement based," Even-Aberle said. "It's colorful, it goes with the flow."

Artist Laurel Antonmarchi, who said that she hasn't done anything like this before, said she was looking forward to pairing her abstract expressionism with Staci Stoddard's story.

"She wasn't sure what her role in life was going to be, so she's had unconventional jobs and has been happy not having her life mapped out," Antonmarchi said. "She's had a colorful life, and my eye is drawn to bold, vibrant color, the unpredictability and whimsical nature of organic geometry," or repeating shapes and patterns found in nature.

All three stories will demonstrate how different forms work with each other and the artistry in storytelling.

"Some of them are funny, sad, poignant, but they're always surprising to me even if I've heard them beforehand," Rivers said. 

"I think it's about connecting artists and storytellers to the audience, because there are vibrant and interesting things to share with the community," Antonmarchi said.

They'll be happier still to tell stories that are just a bit removed from what's expected.

"It'll be interesting to paint a more realistic view of women in the Rapid City community, what we really do," Even-Aberle said.

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Contact Max B. O'Connell at 394-8427 or max.oconnell@rapidcityjournal.com

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