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Ralph Stocker

Ralph Stocker

Local storyteller and sand painting artist Ralph Stocker makes his first public debut with his daughter Genevieve during the February 5th Art Hop at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum's Storytelling Festival kick-off. Ralph, a graphic design graduate from Western Michigan University, has been choreographing live drawings in sand to music at church in Kalamazoo for years, and his daughter recently joined him. These captivating performances were brought to the Museum’s attention when we were looking for a sand painter/storyteller to show the diversity of storytelling. We are excited to be able to show how music, art, and storytelling go together so well as part of this year’s theme, Stories Gone Wild!

Ralph loved to draw as a child, a passion shared by his daughter. He originally gravitated toward drawing with pencil and mural painting, eventually leading to his latest medium, sand. His love for music and painting first came together in the form of sand painting storytelling when he observed another sand painter at work. He was then challenged by a friend to try to tell stories through sand as well. "Often I am inspired first by a song, and I see images as the song progresses," Ralph says. Using his hands to create shadows, line, and images in the sand, Ralph leads the audience through a moving story set to and inspired by the music.

Ralph was elated when his daughter starting working with him. "To be able to share this experience with her makes me so proud. I love to see the way that she challenges me and how we work together to create something even better because she is involved." Together, they create a changing storyboard in sand to music that is then projected onto a screen using a camera and projector so a larger audience can watch. They will perform a series of stories to contemporary pop music in the Museum’s Mary Jane Stryker Theater.