The Tall Tale: Folk, Fantasy & Fear in Art of the Fairy Tale
Featuring ECA Artist Laurel Garcia Colvin at Susan Eley Fine Art in NYC
January 15 - February 28, 2014
We are delighted that Laurel Garcia Colvin will be part of the upcoming exhibit at Susan Eley Fine Art, The Tall Tale: Folk, Fantasy & Fear in Art of the Fairy Tale.
It is an exhibition of 20 photographs, paintings and mixed media works by ten women. The rich, eclectic variety of art includes a range—from literal depictions of well-known tales and characters to abstract expressions of fairy tale narrative, imagery or plot. The exhibition features work by AUDREY BERNSTEIN, ELIZABETH BISBING, LAUREL GARCIA COLVIN, AYAKOH FURUKAWA, CAROLYN MONASTRA, MARIA PASSAROTTI, DEBORAH SCOTT, BARBARA STRASEN, FUMIKO TODA and CHIE YOSHII. The exhibition opens on Wednesday, January 15, with a reception from 6-8 pm, and remains on view through February 28, 2014.
Since the beginning of civilization, fairy tales have played an important role in the collective consciousness of children and adults. Fairy tales inspire, educate, frighten and delight. They are often our first experience with literature and story telling. Fairy tales act as our early teachers, even before we begin school, demonstrating how to behave, who to trust, what to be wary of and how to get along in the world.
Born through the spoken word, fairy tales were first passed on orally and later through the written word. We can attribute the dissemination of regional tales in the western world to authors such as Charles Perrault in the 17th century and the Brothers Grimm in the 19th century, who collected tales directly from the storytellers, edited and recorded them.
The plots drawn in fairy tales are simple and easy to follow, but imbued with moral lessons drawn decisively in black and white. Characters are two-dimensional; they are good or evil, beautiful or ugly, kind or selfish, with little ambiguity. Physical beauty connotes goodness in fairy tales, but also inspires hatred and jealousy (Snow White, Cinderella). Physical beauty also represents inner beauty, while physical ugliness represents evil. Every beautiful princess is good and every ugly hag is cruel.
Fairy tales often begin with a worst-case scenario: Once upon a time, a loving mother dies, leaving the only child with a somewhat loving, but weak father now dominated by an evil stepmother (Cinderella, Snow White). Abandonment and neglect by the surviving parent result in abject loneliness, poverty, hunger and despair. Fairy tales play to a child’s worst fear—the fear of the loss of a parent.
The settings for fairy tales are as two dimensional and simplistic as the characters that inhabit them. Families often live on the edge of a dark, dank forest, where what lurks behind each tree is a mystery (Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears). Home itself is often a place of terror, where food is scarce (Hansel and Gretel) and children are forced to labor (Cinderella).
Then there is the other extreme: the wealthy, royal family who inhabit a castle on a hill. Here, a king and queen live with their perfectly beautiful prince or princess. In these tales, characters are bedecked in finery and enjoy a cornucopia of delectable food and wine.
While wildly entertaining and colorful, the role of fairy tales in children’s lives is to instruct as much as to entertain and delight. The terrifying scenarios children find themselves in catapult them into action (Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Bean Stalk) to make their way in the world. Survive, but play by the rules: don’t talk to strangers (Little Red Riding Hood) and don't trespass (Goldilocks), for example. Basically, the world is a big, bad mean place, so take care! All you may have is yourself to rely on, and sometimes your good looks, if they don't work against you.
So, with all this death, hunger and loneliness, why do children love fairy tales? They identify with the heroes in the stories; they empathize with the pain of missing a parent, sibling rivalry or even lost love. If the characters can overcome the worst situations through ingenuity, grit and bravery (Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel), then the readers can too, with a bit of magic and fairy dust sprinkled in for good measure.
The exhibition opens on Wednesday, January 15, with a reception from 6-8 pm, and remains on view through February 28, 2014.
What: The Tall Tale: Folk, Fantasy & Fear in Art of the Fairytale featuring ECA artist, Laurel Garcia Colvin
When: January 15 - February 28
Where: Susan Eley Fine Art, 46 West 90th Street, New York NY 10023.
Hours: Tuesday - Thursday 11:00 am - 5:00 pm, and by Appointment.