See 34 Shakespeare plays all at once at UMSL’s Gallery FAB

Dan Younger and his interpretation of Julius Caesar

Professor of Art Dan Younger stands beside his photographic interpretation of “Julius Caesar” – one of three pieces he produced for the “Decisive Moments” show currently on display in the Fine Arts Building. It runs through Oct. 12. (Photo by Evie Hemphill)

The large-scale photographs currently adorning the main hallway of the Fine Arts Building at the University of Missouri–St. Louis are a motley bunch. Some of them are funny. Others are sobering and stark. They really run the gamut – much like the literary canon that inspired them.

The images are all part of “Decisive Moments,” the current exhibit in the campus space known as Gallery FAB. Dan Younger, a faculty member in UMSL’s Department of Art and Design, curated the show, which offers visual interpretations of nearly all of William Shakespeare’s plays.

Decisive Moments show in Gallery FAB

(Poster illustration by Mike Dooley)

“The idea was to depict the decisive moment in a particular play,” says Younger, whose own interpretations of “King Lear,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Julius Caesar” are on display through Oct. 12 along with works by nine other St. Louis-based photographers.

Younger’s Lear centers on a blue robot that lived in his room as a child and now resides on a shelf in his UMSL office. Two female figures, depicted by models that Younger hired for the photo shoot, are fawning over the robot while a third shuffles away in the distance.

“I gave him red eyes and a red mouth, because he’s angry at Cordelia, and these two are sucking up,” Younger explains. “So there you go. I would just encourage people to come see the show, and they can figure out whether they think the different photos are successful in their interpretations.”

For “Romeo and Juliet,” Younger photographed the hands of his granddaughter and her boyfriend reaching towards each other over an obliging rock wall in Oak Hill Park.

“What is the moment in that play? It’s not the death, it’s not the mourning, it’s not the fighting – it’s the love,” Younger says of his interpretation. “And they’re teenagers. It couldn’t have been me in the photo; I’ve got too old of hands to do it.”

Some of the visual illustrations feature scenes filled with medieval-looking costumes and finery, while others have a thoroughly contemporary feel or seem to take a more enigmatic approach.

The UMSL professor notes that Gallery FAB’s “Decisive Moments” show is actually a follow-up to an International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit earlier this year. That one included interpretations of all 38 Shakespeare plays. This one is similar in scope – but presents the images in a much larger format.

Younger was able to connect with nearly all of the photographers for this adapted presentation, and they’ll be on campus during a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight in Gallery FAB. They include Chris Bauer, Dave Gilbert, Jill Ritter Lindbergh, Jennifer Meyers, Dave Moore, Kimberly N., Andy Paulissen, Russ Rosener and Elizabeth Wiseman.

“I think it’s a good thing for students to see, and Gallery FAB is all about that – things students should see. So that’s my motivation,” Younger adds. “And with my students – I have juniors and seniors – I will bring them out here [into the hallway during class] and say, ‘OK, I’ll read this synopsis of this play. Tell me if you think this illustration works, and what would you do differently?’ It’s a teaching lab.”

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