Feature Story

Creative Collaboration

February 10, 2015 – by Katie Nunner '15

Ohio Wesleyan Student Paints Cover for Faculty Member’s New Book

When Ohio Wesleyan faculty member Anne Sokolsky wanted to commission an eye-catching cover for her upcoming book, she didn’t have to look far for the perfect artist.

“Initially I was going to ask colleagues in my field whom they have used, but then I realized we have an excellent art department so why not give a student here the chance to get some public recognition,” says Sokolsky, associate professor of Comparative Literature.

“I spoke with my colleague Frank Hobbs, associate professor of fine arts, and he recommended Catie Beach ’16.”

In Sokolsky’s book, “From New Woman Writer to Socialist: The Life and Selected Writings of Tamura Toshiko from 1936-1938,” she offers a detailed biography of Tamura’s life and translations of selected writings. In particular, she focuses on Tamura’s lesser-known fiction based on her experiences living in North America for two decades during the height of anti-Asian racism.

Considered one of Japan’s early modern feminists and hailed as a New Woman writer, Tamura is best known for her bold depictions of female sexuality and her condemnation of Japan’s patriarchal marriage system.

Sokolsky explained her book to Beach, discussing the history of Japanese feminism, Japanese culture, and the plight of Japanese Americans in the 1930s.

Beach then worked with Sokolsky to capture the emotional atmospheres of Tamura’s life, using watercolors to contrast the golden light on the shore of Vancouver with a grayer environment in Japan. Beach also focused on contrasting the Protestant and Shinto beliefs of the two environments.

“It was a great opportunity to do commission work for the first time,” says Beach, a fine arts major from Columbus, Ohio. “I’d love to be involved in other projects.”

The experience also enabled Sokolsky and Beach to learn more about each other’s disciplines.

Sokolsky says, “The fine arts department is really top notch here and now I see why. I was really impressed with Catie’s professionalism, not to mention her talent. It was great for me to work with an art student, a chance I rarely have.”

Beach agrees the collaborative experience was beneficial.

“It was fantastic to learn about this woman’s life. It was serendipity to learn about something [Sokolsky] is so passionate about and the artistic process to create the artwork for the cover,” Beach says. “Other students and professors should reach across lines.”

Sokolsky’s book is expected to be released in May 2015.