Dec 2 2011

#216 “Far Out”

From Trine in Denmark

My first illustration from Denmark! And what a beautiful piece of artwork it is. To tell the truth, my first impression of this illustration is that it may as well have come from outer space. While I’m a little ashamed to admit it, I must say that Denmark is a place that is a bit of a mystery to me. It is nearly as foreign as a distant planet or star; in fact, it may even be more mysterious since I am able to look on the stars with my own eyes every night and I have never truly seen the country of Denmark.

Is this what the artist of this piece had in mind? Am I just as mysterious to him as he is to me? Or is there another theme at play here? Perhaps this work is designed to call attention to the “universal” nature of the wolf and the illustration is a commentary on how the creature is able to permeate all time and space. Maybe it is an editorial about the fact that this world is no longer home to the wolf since this earth has been overrun with man and the machines he creates. But then again, maybe it’s just a cool picture of a wolf in outer space….. you know…. since wolves love the moon so much.

On a related note, it’s interesting to consider how the concept of space is something that is comforting to some and a bit disturbing to others. For a few, the concept of the vastness of space is frightening because its incomprehensible nature. It is a cold and lonely place devoid of emotion. To others, though, this otherworldly realm is one full of adventure and possibilities. It really is the final frontier, and as such, it offers limitless possibilities.

For me, the expansiveness of space is neither and both at the same time. It’s a bit frightening to realize that there is a great unknown universe above me, but at the very same time the idea of escaping from this world and leaving all of its trappings behind couldn’t be more attractive.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a lullaby that my mother sang to me when I was young and which I was reminded of when I saw this illustration from this generous stranger in Denmark.

The New Moon

Oh, Mother, how pretty
The moon looks tonight
She was never so cunning before
Her two little horns
Are too sharp and so bright
I hope they’ll not grow any more.

If I was up there
With you and the moon
We’d rock in it nightly, you see.
We’d sit in the middle
And hold to both ends
Oh, what a fine cradle ‘twould be!

We’d call to the stars
To get out of our way
‘Lest we should rock over their toes
And there we would stay
‘Til the dawn of the day
And see where the pretty moon goes.

Jul 20 2011

#81 “The Politically Correct Version…”


From Kat

There is certainly no shortage of Red Riding Hood themed pieces in my vast collection of wolf artwork, but this illustration is different from all the rest. There is a certain quality to this particular piece that sets it apart. After much thought and thorough examination, I have come to the conclusion that this mysterious feature is the mature rendering of both the girl and the wolf. There is a quality of adulthood that seems present in the eyes and the demeanor of each of these creatures. No, my friends, this isn’t the Little Red Riding Hood of your youth. This is a new version, an updated interpretation of a time-honored tale that blows the original out of the water.

In fact, this illustration reminds me of a retelling of the classic story that was published in a 1994 book called Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner, published by MacMillan Publishing Co., NY. Read for yourself and see if this upgraded illustration and this modernized telling of the tale don’t seem to match up perfectly.

There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood who lived with her mother on the edge of a large wood. One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother’s house–not because this was womyn’s work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender a feeling of community. Furthermore, her grandmother was not sick, but rather was in full physical and mental health and was fully capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.

So Red Riding Hood set off with her basket through the woods. Many people believed that the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place and never set foot in it. Red Riding Hood, however, was confident enough in her own budding sexuality that such obvious Freudian imagery did not intimidate her.

On the way to Grandma’s house, Red Riding Hood was accosted by a wolf, who asked her what was in her basket. She replied, “Some healthful snacks for my grandmother, who is certainly capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.”

The wolf said, “You know, my dear, it isn’t safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone.”

Red Riding Hood said, “I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop your own, entirely valid, worldview. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be on my way.”

Red Riding Hood walked on along the main path. But because his status outside society had freed him from slavish adherence to linear, Western-style thought, the wolf knew a quicker route to Grandma’s house. He burst into the house and ate Grandma, an entirely valid course of action for a carnivore such as himself. Then, unhampered by rigid, traditionalist notions of what was masculine or feminine, he put on Grandma’s nightclothes and crawled into bed.

Red Riding Hood entered the cottage and said, “Grandma, I have brought you some fat-free, sodium-free snacks to salute you in your role of a wise and nurturing matriarch.”

From the bed, the wolf said softly, “Come closer, child, so that I might see you.”

Red Riding Hood said, “Oh, I forgot you are as optically challenged as a bat. Grandma, what big eyes you have!”

“They have seen much, and forgiven much, my dear.”

“Grandma, what a big nose you have–only relatively, of course, and certainly attractive in its own way.”

It has smelled much, and forgiven much, my dear.”

“Grandma, what big teeth you have!”

The wolf said, “I am happy with who I am and what I am,” and leaped out of the bed. He grabbed Red Riding Hood in his claws, intent on devouring her. Red Riding Hood screamed, not out of alarm at the wolf’s apparent tendency toward cross-dressing, but because of his willful invasion of her personal space.

Her screams were heard by a passing woodchopper-person (or log-fuel technician, as he preferred to be called). When he burst into the cottage, he saw the melee and tried to intervene. But as he raised his ax, Red Riding Hood and the wolf both stopped.

“And just what do you think you’re doing?” asked Red Riding Hood.

The woodchopper-person blinked and tried to answer, but no words came to him.

“Bursting in here like a Neanderthal, trusting your weapon to do your thinking for you!” she exclaimed. “Sexist! Speciesist! How dare you assume that womyn and wolves can’t solve their own problems without a man’s help!”

When she heard Red Riding Hood’s impassioned speech, Grandma jumped out of the wolf’s mouth, seized the woodchopper-person’s ax, and cut his head off. After this ordeal, Red Riding Hood, Grandma, and the wolf felt a certain commonality of purpose. They decided to set up an alternative household based on mutual respect and cooperation, and they lived together in the woods happily ever after.