The making of a storyteller

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I have always loved stories. Reading a good book has always been one of my greatest pleasures. Hearing someone expertly tell a tale is fascinating, whether or not the tale is true. Many of my nights have been spent enthralled by the epic plot unfolding on the screen before me. I sincerely respect a good storyteller, in any form.

Throughout my life, I have made various attempts to make my way into that role of storyteller. In elementary school, I made silly comics with my friends, played pretend, and once for a class wrote a story explaining why the Desert Rain Frog is so fat. In middle school, I joined theatre, and began telling stories on the stage. I was first in State Fair, then High School Musical, then finally I starred as the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. I loved being a character in these stories, telling these stories with my friends. In high school, I continued doing theatre. I performed in several musicals, was involved in Speech Contest, did tech crew for several community theatre productions, and helped with several short film projects for friends. I was also introduced to Dungeons and Dragons in high school, and spent many long weekend nights around a table with friends cooperatively making up new stories. Of course, through all this, I continued to take in the stories of others, reading, watching shows (both on the screen and on the stage), and so on.

Nathan Riley (on left) during a film project in his high school senior year for a Spanish class. (He did not take Spanish.)

During my time at Luther, I continued telling stories, though through slightly different means. I continued playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends, and did a little bit of theatre, including another production of High School Musical (funny, isn’t it, I never did it high school). However, my main storytelling outlet was art. I became an art major my sophomore year, but it wasn’t really until my junior year that I truly began to tell stories with my art. My junior year, I got involved in the Photo Bureau. One of my main responsibilities as an event photographer was to tell the story of each event that I photographed. It was my job to tell those who weren’t there what happened, to tell the story of the event. This new form of storytelling challenged me, and I quite enjoyed it. As senior year rolled around, I used what I had learned in both Photo Bureau, as well as my art classes, to create my senior project. The project was a solo art show using photography and drawing to tell my interpretation of the story of the relationship between humans and nature. I once again found myself challenged, and in the end satisfied, with this storytelling process.

One of Riley's senior project works, titled "City #4."

Having taken the position of the Visual Media Fellow here at Luther after graduating this past spring, I now find myself a professional storyteller. One of the major responsibilities of my job is supervising the Video Bureau, so I spend much of my time working on videos now, rather than photos. This has brought with it new challenges, but also new opportunities, especially where storytelling is concerned. It is now my responsibility to pass on the stories I hear, to make them engaging and relatable to those who are watching them. It is my job to take the various happenings from across campus and to tell the stories therein. I have enjoyed this opportunity to do a thing I love, and I look forward to continuing to do so.

Nathan Riley

Nathan Riley

Nathan Riley is the Luther College 2018-19 Visual Media Fellow. He hails from Dubuque, Iowa, where he graduated from Dubuque Senior. He graduated from Luther in spring 2018 with a major in art and minors in Asian studies and biology. A lifelong learner, Riley is teaching himself how to play bass guitar. (His whole family is very musical... he's trying to catch up.)

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