Seniors reinterpret literature

Drew Foster ’08 was bored. So he did what he usually did when he was bored: he drew.

“I loved to watch ‘Alice in Wonderland’, but with the volume turned off,” he said. “And I would just draw.”
So when he was applying for Independent Study at the end of his junior year, he decided to embark on a project that had been a dream of his for years, to adapt J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” as a graphic novel for an Independent Study.

“Anyone who reads it falls in love with it,” he said.  “But I found that for some reason, a lot of people hadn’t read it, and this will be a fresh reinterpretation for them,” Foster said.

He conceived the idea when he was in  eigth grade, after reading the novel for the first time and “becoming enchanted by it.”

Although he had never taken an art class at school, his Independent Study was approved and he now meets with Visual Arts teachers Arthur Tobias and Nancy Popp, and English Teacher Jill Turner twice a week.

“My drawings have no detail,” he said.  “It’s really a mix of Peanut Gang simplicity with collagist complexity.”

I’ve always received a lot of support from the art department,” he said. “Dr. Tobias really took a chance on me.” Now, having completed three chapters, he calls it “the most intense work I’ve ever done.”
His drawings were a mostly private hobby until he started contributing to “Smithereens,” the middle school comedy magazine, in ninth grade.

He continued at the Upper School, making posters for the Prefect Council and getting a full page in “Stonecutters” as a showcase for his drawings in 10th grade.

Foster projects the comic to be completed in spring of 2008, when he plans to distribute free copies to Dutton’s Books in Brentwood.

Since the novel’s author, J.D. Salinger, is famously protective of the novel’s publishing rights, Foster will not be able to sell it. “I don’t care about the money anyway,” he said. “I just want as many people to see my work as possible.”

Like Foster, Matthew Krumpe ’08 is undertaking an Independent Study featuring art based on literature. Krumpe, an Advanced Dance Seminar student, is in the process of choreographing a 30-minute dance piece based on Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” for which he will design all of the costumes.

Krumpe initially pitched the idea of a “Jungle Book” dance piece at a meeting about possible themes for the Advanced Dance concert.

When it wasn’t selected for the concert, he decided to take matters into his own hands and produce his idea as an Independent Study. Dance Program Director Cynthia Winter agreed to supervise.

This semester, Krumpe will be researching “The Jungle Book”, Kipling’s ideologies and background, the rainforest’s climate, and animal movement of individual animals, including bears and tigers.  He will begin choreographing the piece next semester.

“I was thinking about my show,” Krumpe said, “and I knew that I needed great costumes to get across my theme and  knew what I wanted them to look like. So I said, ‘Why don’t I make them myself?’”

As a dancer, he said, he knows what is comfortable to move in.

“I am the right person for the job,” he said.

The design process has only just begun, but Krumpe he definitely wants prints and furs to be incorporated into his costumes.

“I am not going to do anything too complicated,” Krumpe says.

Despite his lack of experience, Krumpe is confident about how the costumes will turn out.
“I have always been an artist and very interested in design, so I think it will all work out,” he said.