Upon entering the exhibition, viewers will be immediately filled with the urge to play. The brightly colored pictures of children and childhood imagery alongside the whirling dervish of activity and strange cacophony of sounds evoke the feelings of the playfulness and frenzy of childhood. As they stay a bit longer and look a bit harder however, they will begin to notice that things are not quite right. The child in the painting has some extra arms, the toy animals have no fur, sounds are coming from disembodied voice boxes, the plush toys are not so huggable and the fairy tales don’t turn out quite right. What you will come to realize is that this is neither The Wonderful World of Disney nor FAO Schwartz; this is where The Island of Misfit Toys meets the Big Lots discount rack.
Fairy tales are introduced to children at a very particular time of life: when they are old enough to be aware of many of the wonderful aspects of the world and still believe in the fantastic discoveries yet to come. It is easy to introduce the notions of witches and dragons and talking dogs in a world that has submarines, x-rays and space ships. The difficult contrast between the real world and the fantasy world however is the absoluteness of good and evil; beauty and ugliness and the notion that good and beauty always prevail. It is this understood subtext that shifts our focus from the realities of the real Cinderella story to our general understanding of the term.
This show strips fairy tales bare. In doing so it exposes the psychological and social dynamics that are involved in these tales, which are presented as parables for life. In doing this it questions what qualities are valued by society in its perpetuation of these tales. We observe what qualities we cherish as evidenced by their mimicry in children’s toys. But take away the veneer, and the childlike voice box that wants to be your friend is creepy.
The show is therefore meant to come to viewers at two different speeds. Enjoy the frenetic pace of the images and colors and sounds and activities; play and point and giggle. Then, if you are able, slow down and engage the stories and the elegant craft that tells them, you may find that bedtime stories have a significance that is a bit different.
–Scot Kaplan, curator
Fritz Kapler is an artist who lives and works locally. His beautifully illustrative paintings were derived from turn of the century German postcards that have been altered to create an intriguing psychological dialogue that viewers find to be alluring and repellant and always engaging.
Linda Fuelling is an artist living and working in Chicago. Her soft sculptures are colored in sweet pastel fabrics and suggest cuddly preschool children’s toys. In Linda’s toys however genetics and physical development have gone array producing sweet, cuddly freaks.
Liam O’Brian is another artist living and working in Chicago. Liam’s exquisite pen and ink drawings (held on with trompe l’oeil making tape) tell the story of what happens when Snowmen turn bad and their thought turn to taking over the world.
Billie Grace Lynn is an artist and teacher working in Miami Florida. Her toy’s stripped bare are hysterical and horrifying. They call to you to touch and play and startle you with the result. Her corral of furless animals exposes the secret social dynamics of toys.
Fernando Orellana is an artist who (at the time of this show) will be living and working in New York. Fernando continues to subvert robotics and digital media to explore the futile and the ridiculous. His work makes you question what is so funny about pathos.
Scot Kaplan is an artist and teacher living and working locally. Scot’s audio work suggests that some of us are incapable of seeing the possibilities, and that everyone has their own idea of a happy ending.