My recent body of work and ongoing exploration is centered in the historical and cross-cultural examination of childrens’ literature. Predominantly, my paintings question the contemporary cultural validity of symbols, characters and commonalities within the narrative discourse of fairy-tales, folk-tales and nursery rhymes. This merging inevitably distinguishes and pinpoints differences between original intentions, of the brothers Grimm for example, and the cultural, political and social changes involved throughout the life of the tale. Repression, morality, gender, sexuality; all are themes that have altered the reality of these tales. My objective is to re-present a historical accumulation of these changes due to centuries of alterations, while maintaining the original intention that, in most cases, is based on childrens’ horror, fear and distress.
It is within this fear that the self-portrait assumes power in an array of embodiments. Displaying the fear within the levels of re-presentation, re-explores the context of these characters. Little Ms. Muffet, the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood; these are all tales or stories that involve the absolute worst situations to happen. The screaming, the pain and the theatrical expressions are well rooted within my understanding of the amalgamation of history and to the original sources within this literature and art.
Going back to the source is a main conceptual focus of my work. By using history as a starting point in order to understand the contemporary disjunction between a Disney character and its original, by Perrault for example, allows a certain understanding of several layers of the cultural fabric surrounding preoccupations within children pedagogy. When looking at the idea of “villains”, one can ask what is a villain? When thinking about the fear and horror of villains in childrens’ literature, perhaps a contemporary apparition of such might include Michael Jackson.
A clear understanding of the source and its history will help in displaying the contrariety of these literary forms as one explores them within a contemporary sphere. Knowing that the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, historically speaking, is entirely premised on incest, is fascinating when re-interpreting the dainty, hooded girl that appears in most childrens’ books and films. This disjunction is what drives me to question and show that there is a rich history to be revealed.