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Fairy Tales Revamped
Interview by Gretchen Gales
Cover Image by Courtney Kenny Porto
Gallery Images by Shelby Geistfeld
Move aside Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Anderson, and yes, even you, Disney.
On April 9th, RNG Gallery in Council Bluffs, Iowa showcased an exhibition of art called "Once Upon A Time...A Twisted Fairytale." Female artists challenged conventional endings of fairytales with their own empowering versions.
John McIntyre & Laura Vranes are art collectors, enthusiasts, and ambassadors. Nadia Shinkunas is a local artist, art promoter, & all around art lover. The trio met in 2015 while Nadia was hosting One Night Solo Exhibitions of local artists at Jerry’s Bar, for a monthly community art walk—Benson First Friday. They each wanted to make a bigger impact on the local art scene, so they joined forces to start Random Arts Omaha in January 2016. This will be their 3rd show and RAO is planning shows through September of 2016.
1) What is the goal of the show? In other words, what do you want visitors to get out of the work?
Laura Vranes: When a person thinks of fairy tales, the first thing that comes to mind is Disney. The way they have diluted the meaning of fairy tales can be surprising. I am hoping that the viewer will see how the artists , who are all female, have reclaimed this image of the damsel in distress and show how powerful these otherwise delicate woman can be.
2) Are you featuring any rookie artists? Veterans of the arts?
Nadia: This is a great show with artists from all over the spectrum! For some Artists, this is their first show, and some are old pros. We think it is important to put on shows with different experience levels. We can all learn from each other. It’s important for emerging artists to have a good support system, and I think the more established artists are more than happy to not only give that support, but also open themselves up to being influenced by new possibilities, techniques, etc. I could go on forever.
3) The promotional art I’ve seen is the one with Little Red Riding Hood with the Wolf on a leash. When creating the work, how did you (Courtney) imagine Little Red tamed the Wolf?
Courtney: I had the pleasure of playing with a domesticated wolf earlier this year and was shocked by its likenesses to a dog. Her owner explained that while wolves certainly can be dangerous, they are not generally aggressive towards humans by nature and attacks on humans are very rare. This encounter made me rethink the Little Red Riding Hood story. I imagine that Little Red Riding Hood spent copious amounts of time working with and nurturing the wolf to gain its trust and companionship. I also imagine the treats, meant for her grandmother, aided her in her training. As a feminist and animal lover, I much prefer this ending to others I have read. Not only does Little Red Riding hood not need to be rescued in this ending, but the wolf remains unharmed as well. In my version, Little Red Riding Hood is able to use cleverness, patience, and nurturing to solve her problem. She does not need to rely on physical strength or someone else to save her.
4) What other twisted fairy tales can we expect? What happens in those pieces?
Laura: One of the artists featured in the show is Lauren Baird. She is an extraordinary. Lauren works with porcelain, but there is always a playful twist to her pieces. "Gold Lust" is a lavish take on the evil stepsister in the Cinderella story. It is done in the 18th century Rococo style and focuses on seduction and greed. Done in stark white, there are highlights of gold in the pearls that wrap through her hair and her eyes are hauntingly gold reflecting how money is more important than love. Another one of Lauren's piece is "Trapped in a Daydream." What strikes me about this work is the muted colors contrasted with a ornate black mirror that the figure is gazing into. She appears to want to break free and become empowered. She sees what she can become, but is held back by the bird that is confined within her skirt. Perhaps, that self-doubt is always nagging at our heels. It is astonishingly beautiful, but there is a sadness to it.
Nadia: Nicole Roberts, who is a local tattoo artist at Rawhide Tattoo is showing a vividly beautiful oil painting of her girlfriend, Ana, in the middle of transforming from Human to Dragon. Nicole says, “I used to get pissed off that women were never the badass heroes, so I created my own, and she saved the world and stuff and could transform into a dragon because duh, dragons are just cool.”
5) How were the artists inspired while working on their pieces for the show?
Courtney: As an artist, this theme challenged me to reconsider and reinvent. I found inspiration by thinking about fairytales I am familiar with and reimagining them. I thought about the messages they send, intentionally or not, and what I would like the message to be instead.
Nadia Shinkunas: I have constructed a “Rabbit Hole” out of PVC Pipe and Fabric, with an ornate mirror for the bottom. Alice in Wonderland has always been my favorite story. I like to think each of us is able to relate to each character in the story at some point in our lives, sometimes all in One Day! When Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which way she should go, I see this as a metaphor for “What should I do with my life?”. None of us really know where we are going, and No one can really tell us. “Then it really doesn’t matter, which way you go”, allows us to make our own way, no matter what “The Queen”says. I see myself in Alice, because she was smart, independent, and curious, all the things sweet little girls told Not to be.
6) How much work goes into opening up an exhibition like this?
Laura Vranes: There is so much prep work to be done. My husband and I were asked to curate the show in November. We had discussed many different ideas and then I read an article about how this was going to be the year of the female artist. We agreed that this show needed to be about fairy tales done with a feminist viewpoint. Shortly after that, Nadia Shinkunas joined our team, I am hoping this show will make people stop and think about not only the talented artists we have in the show, but their perception of what fairy tales mean to them.
Nadia: We started Random Arts Omaha with the idea of doing themed group exhibitions once a month. Group shows are often more hectic than solo shows because you have to coordinate multiple people. We just try to be as available as possible for the artists, to ensure we are able to include as many artists as possible which makes each exhibition fun and exciting. As an artist myself, I love getting into the heads of my peers.. getting down and nerdy about art. Group shows are So Great for that, so many different techniques and styles, I’m like a kid in a candy store on opening nights. So it is a lot of work, but it is soooo worth it!
7) Why is art so important in the community?
Laura Vranes: I have seen how important the arts can be within the community. If you have a strong arts program you seem to have a vibrant arts community. It can become a catalyst for learning and discovery. And, to some extent tolerance. You can, also, see meaningful bonds being formed and community building taking place. It can inspire pride and satisfaction in both yourself and your community.
Nadia Shinkunas: Art imitates life. If nothing else, we can learn so much about our own communities, through the art produced in it.
#Real #Interview #Art #TwistedFairytales #Myth #Folklore #Feminism #Imagination #NewTwists
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