As a child, my parents never read this story to me. My first time reading it was this past week. Reading it as an adult, it was clear to see the messages being delivered through the story. The notion of obedience, and listening to your parents, as they always know best, ran rather transparently throughout the tale. However, I found myself siding more so with Peter. Acting as the protagonist, I found myself routing for him the entire way, while I saw his siblings as goody two shoes who were merely doing as they were told, rather than adventuring and making their own way. They weren’t adventurous or bold enough to warrant my attention. The stories I tend to gravitate towards are those told about the bold. The ones who go against the grain and buck the system.
Today in class, when we spoke about who each character represents, I couldn’t help but think of Mr. McGregor as representing ‘the man.” To me, he represented some kind of authoritative agent who sought to suppress adventure and creativity. Seeing as Beatrice Potter was someone who went against social norms and the wishes of her mother, I saw her being portrayed through Peter Rabbit, and all those who told her what she was doing wasn’t right being portrayed by Mr. McGregor. In the end everything turned out alright for Peter (and Beatrice) as Mr. McGregor (societal expectations and constraints) failed to capture and kill him.
After reading it, I wouldn’t be surprised if my parents chose to exclude this from our late night reading on purpose, as I was a child who had already begun expressing an aversion to authority. I think they knew I would’ve sided with Peter Rabbit, and admired his expression of individuality.
The workshops this week were enjoyable, to a degree. I enjoyed collaging, as it is something that I have done since I was a child. I was never good at drawing or painting, and so my creative options were relegated to exercises in coloring books and and collaging. I worked with the local newspapers to make a collage of the sections I found to be most prominent and of the most interest to me. The exercise was enjoyable, and in a way therapeutic.
Todays workshop with adobe illustrator was more difficult. I had trouble finding the colors and shapes that I was looking for. The process itself didn’t feel at all organic, and was quite honestly boring for me. Even though I cant paint or draw, I enjoy working with my hands more than I do on the computer. It’s an interesting medium over which to create, and I’m sure those more apt artistically can find ways to make beautiful pieces of art, but I don’t think digital illustration is the thing for me.
Being able to spend time interacting with and listening to Julia this morning was an incredible experience. Hearing about the creative process from her view was fascinating. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the two large murals, each a zoomed in depiction of a larger ad. It was interesting to consider the little idiosyncrasies that exist in advertisements, and for her to draw attention to such minute details, to me, was fascinating. To make such a beautiful piece of art based off of a reflection or a minuscule section of an advertisement is something that at once seems both abstract and representational, and then to hear her motivation behind creating the pieces makes you realize that both are simultaneously correct.
Being able to hear an artist speak about their work and the motivation and struggle involved in creating it was enthralling. Also impressive was the ease with which she was able to field questions and provide in depth answers on the spot. My question, about the possible shift in art in the years to come based on the emergence of digital play and the decline of traditional forms of play, was one that I believed might be too loaded for her to provide a quick and well thought out response so early in the morning, but she provided me with an answer I found to be more than satisfactory.
The experience in it’s entirety was memorizing, and it made me appreciate her work all the more. It made me hope that I will be able to take part in such events again in the future.
I thoroughly enjoyed the work of Edward Gorey’s that we looked at in class this week. I found the way that he juxtaposes such morbidity with playful verse and rhymes to be incredibly interesting. The artwork is stunning and the collection of verses that go along with the images in many ways add depth and perspective. His twisted and creepy sense of humor is right up my alley, and while I understand that it isn’t for everyone, I’m sure anyone that reads it can at the very least appreciate the way he addresses such dark and morbid topics while maintaining a comical undertone.
Reading it made me analyze more intensely the ways in which children’s books address topics such as death. Books such as Goodnight Mister Tom or Goodbye Mog often times introduce children to the concepts of death, and helps them begin to internalize the fragility of life, and the implications that death carries for the living. I would imagine tackling such subjects with children is difficult, as the questions would be boundless and the concepts would almost certainly not be grasped immediately, but it’s interesting to think about how literature assists in the process of helping children learn about such things.
Gorey certainly chose to take a different creative direction than the authors of the books mentioned above, as he deals with the topic in a more direct and brutal way. The way that he illustrates and writes about the gruesome ends that children meet, or the way in which he speaks about race and murder probably aren’t what most parents are looking for their kids to read. The stories are inherently dark and quite funny (in my opinion at least), but Gorey addresses head on the dark reality that exists beyond the pages, outside of the book. It certainly isn’t a collection of stories I’d recommend for children, as it deals with issues in much more direct and brutal manner than other literature does.
While collage is a technique of creation most generally associated with the visual arts, when I think of collage I can’t help but think of music. Since the advent of modern recording technology, it has become commonplace for musicians and producers to cut and paste different tracks over others. This collage of recordings first hit the main stream when George Martin began employing such methods when producing records for The Beatles. Today, the collage of recordings is endemic in genres such as rap, hip-hop and electronic music. Artists and producers have found success in the practice, as audiences have continued over time to respond positively to the collages. When speaking about collage, I believe that it’s important to realize and note that it has crossed the boundaries of visual arts into other forms of art as well. Beyond music, collage now hold a place in film, literature, fashion design, and an array of other areas.
Each time we take part in a workshop, I find myself growing more enamored with the people who used to and continue to create with these mediums. Even with help, it took my group nearly the full two days to assemble our phrase, choose a picture and then print the text and the images. The sheer amount of hours that people must’ve spent using the printing press to create books and accompanying images is astounding to me. I did however find a clear difference in the quality. The images and text that come out of the printing press, in my mind at least, are much more aesthetically pleasing than modern print today. I understand the appeal, and why it is that the use of the printing press is still preferred today for things such as wedding invitations and business cards. The quality of the pieces produced is second to none, and the fact that people still look to use printing presses in modern times speaks to that fact. I really enjoyed learning about the printing press, and being able to use one. It’s an activity I’m sure I never would’ve taken part in if it weren’t for this class.
Since class on Monday, I’ve been thinking about the question that was raised regarding whether or not there are any books/poems/etc. that should not be illustrated. I’m somewhat caught in the middle with regards to my thoughts on the issue. In certain cases I feel as if artwork can fully capture the essence of a story or a scene within a piece of literature, and even add to it. Anyone who has reads pieces such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and seen the illustrations that accompany these novels would understand that the artwork serves not only to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the novel, but also to add meaningfulness to the story itself. I believe that the relationship between art and text is beneficial for both parties, but I remain skeptical as to whether or not this leads me to believe all novels or poems should be illustrated.
I was given a copy of one of my favorite books, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, by my grandfather in high school. It was a plain, hardcover book with just the title and the authors name on the spine. There were no images in the book, no illustration on the cover, and I had never seen any images depicting scenes from it prior to my reading. It remains to this today one of my most enjoyable reading experiences, and I believe this can be at least partially attributed to the fact that I was able to craft for myself, with the help of Hemingway’s language, the images being played out in the text. I imagined for myself what Fredric Henry, the protagonist, saw and experienced during World War 1. I gave meaning to the words on the pages, and was able to do so without being guided by images of what others believed I should be seeing while reading.
I have had experiences where images have added to the literary experience for me, and others where the lack of imagery has made my experience more enjoyable. I’m still torn between the two sides, and as so I think I will have to remain agnostic when it comes to this issue. I’m curious to know what other people think regarding the question that was raised on Monday.
During our first day in the workshop, I split my time between the collaborative illustration with my group and the illuminated letter. I spent the majority of my time on the former, and during our second class decided to focus more on my illuminated letter. I forced myself to think more acutely about the process and the design which I wanted to bring to life. At first, I found myself frustrated with my lack of creativity and general artistic ability, but once I got into a rhythm I began to really enjoy the exercise. While the finished product was certainly nothing to brag about, I found pleasure in knowing that I had sat down with a blank page and created something of my own. I gained an even deeper appreciation for the artists and miniaturists who worked on the illuminated images that we view weekly in class. I can say with the utmost certainty that I don’t posses the patience required to create illuminations as intricate and elaborate as the ones we view in class. I sit in awe of both the creative faculties and their patience. They are qualities that I wished I possessed.
I’d be curious to know if other people had similar reactions to the exercise, or if those of you who are more artistic found the time to be less stressful.
After learning about illuminated manuscripts and the processes involved in their creation in class for the past few weeks, it was great to be able to sit down and gain some hands on experience in the field. I spent time working with my group on our collaborative illustration, working on creating my own illuminated letter, and mixing the paint with Mr. Goodwillie. Albeit my artistic capabilities are certainly limited, to put it mildly, I still enjoyed spending time creating the illuminated letter. I found it to be challenging but certainly interesting and rewarding as well.
What I enjoyed the most however was mixing the paint. It was something entirely new to me, and I gained an appreciation for just how hard these artists must’ve worked to illuminate the manuscripts we’ve been studying. Aside from the talent that it requires, the sheer amount of time that must be spent preparing the tools required to illuminate is worthy of praise on its own. I couldn’t imagine having to sit down and mix the amount of paint that must’ve been required to illuminate the images in an entire text.
All in all I found the experience to be thoroughly enjoyable as well as educational. I appreciated having the opportunity to experience first hand the processes of artistic expression that we have been studying for the past few weeks.
In class up to this point, a good portion of our time has been spent discussing the concept of metapictures (images that in some way acknowledge their essence as pictures, and comment upon themselves). In Orhan Pamuk’s novel, My Name Is Red, we encounter for the first time what I believe to be a related concept, metafiction. While there have been several examples of metafiction present in the portion of the novel that I have completed, the most powerful and clear cut example came in the third chapter, which is titled I Am A Dog. In this chapter the dog, who is the narrator, says, “I’m a dog, and because you humans are less rational beasts than I, you’re telling yourselves, ‘Dogs don’t talk.’ Nevertheless, you seem to believe in a story in which corpses speak and characters use words they couldn’t possibly know” (Pamuk, 11). It is clear to see here, especially in the final sentence of the excerpt, that the dog is in fact addressing the reader, and in doing so the dog makes clear that they know they’re a character within a novel. The dog comments upon it’s reality within the pages of the book by addressing the reader. Throughout his novel, Pamuk has self-consciously alluded to the artificiality of his work by departing from traditional novelistic conventions and employing the use of metafiction. I’m interested to see if Pamuk uses this technique at other points later in the novel.