The Tale of Oramus and Jane
For six weeks in June and July of the summer of 2015, a group of artists gathered at the Glendale Public Library and a studio in Salt Lake City to illustrate a young adult book together and to document the creative process.
The book, The Tale of Oramus and Jane by Elise Zoller, is about a friendship between a girl and a bird, which was born in a world called Dream. The story begins late one night when a house finch named Oramus, old, lame, and fluent in the languages of humans, appears on twelve year old Jane’s night stand and invites her to travel with him through the corridors of her dreams.
Oramus awakes in Jane a hope she had buried since the desperate day she fell from the branches of an oak tree and lost the use of her legs and the life she had known. Together the two cross back and forth through the thin veil between life and death in an adventure through deep forests, snowy Russian fields, and rat infested caves, pursuing lessons that Jane must grasp while still holding on to the last threads of her life.
They meet Kolbrin, the powerful leader of the Owl Council, who shimmers with the green and gold light that permeates his forest; Pamina, the ravishingly beautiful parakeet who protects the Archives of the Book of Songs: and Fritilla, the scheming Siamese cat who rules a dark, mysterious underworld.
The Tale of Oramus and Jane is accompanied by 18 oil illustrations by the author and shown in the Illustration Section of this site. In 2015, the group of young artists, aged 10 to 12, explored with Zoller how to create their own visual images for the book using the basic principles of classical realism to convey facts and poetic truth to complement the story.
Tyler Smith, a professor at Salt Lake Community College, filmed each class and interviewed Zoller about the origins of the story and the illustrations developed from it.
The result of the Glendale Public Library work, the studio work, Smith’s documentary film process, and Zoller’s writing and illustration was:
- a young adult book and eighteen oil illustrations
- a documentary film
- and 27 young adult watercolor illustrations
Nine artists created visual works based on a single text.
Between August 31 and September 15, 2016, this multi media exhibit was on display at Salt Lake Community College’s Eccles Gallery in Salt Lake City, UT.