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MU Student Uses Scary Experience to Inspire Her Art

A terrifying event that happened during a study abroad trip became the inspiration for a Summer Richie’s award-winning art project. Richie, a senior psychology major at Mizzou, said a guy chased her down a New Zealand street yelling at her. When she returned to her flat she told her flat mate who said, “Boys will be boys.”

That phrase stuck with Summer. “In my mind, it has a negative connotation. Other people use it in a light-hearted way. If a boy messes with a girl, people say – what can you do? But then it becomes used to justify his behavior.”

Summer took the popular saying and turned it into an art piece for her fibers class. She bought three used books at the Goodwill for the project. She said she’s always loved redacted poetry and had the idea to cross out every word except the words “boys will be boys.”

It took her longer that she expected because “each book had 300 pages and there were three books, that was 900 pages,” she said. She did all the work by herself, and it took her a couple of months to complete the project, which included handmade papers and cyanotype prints.

Her professor told the class about the Visual Art and Design Showcase (VADS) in Jesse Hall. Summer sent pictures of her books and was accepted into the exhibition, which ran for three weeks in February. She was one of 51 Mizzou students from various majors selected to participate.

Her three books were displayed on pedestals to be judged and viewed by the public. During the reception, Summer encouraged people to touch the books. She stated,“ I wanted the pink and fuzziness of the books to draw people in so they wouldn’t be expecting what was there.” She felt most people understood her message of the redacted pages of the books.

One of Summer’s books was also on display last fall in Ellis Library as part of Assistant Professor C. Pazia Mannella’s Intermediate/Advanced Fibers class in an exhibit called Handle with Care. Richie’s book was one of eight from the class to be accessioned into the University of Missouri’s Special Collections and has since been shared with undergraduate classes and during a Friends of the Libraries event featuring artists’ books from the collections.

The books will be displayed during the month of April in the Ellis Library.

Written by Christina Mascarenas