Return to the Glenbow

Rather than try to explain a several month absence from blog writing I’ll just continue on as though I’ve been as frequent as ever.  There…

With the renewal of our Glenbow Museum membership we were able to enjoy the final days of the recent Glenbow exhibition entitled, “Fairy Tales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination.”  Although there were many things to explore I was flying solo with the kids and didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d like to enjoy all the pieces.  A few however did stick in my mind.

Kiki Smith RaptureThe first powerful piece was Kiki Smith’s “Rapture” (2001), a 67 1/4 x 62 x 26 1/2 inch Bronze statue of Little Red Riding Hood emerge from the ruptured belly of the wolf.

This work was emphasized by my two daughters interest in the nude figure and the emergence from the wolf.  As they had never heard the original Grimm Brother’s fairy tale of Red Riding Hood – with is ferocious sexuality and misogynic message – they didn’t understand what was occurring in the Bronze.  It was rewarding to talk with them about the power of the woman to destroy the wolf herself without the axe of the woodsman.

Long awaited 1The second work to impact me was the surreal silicon sculpture, “The Long Awaited” by Patricia Piccinini.  This 92 x 152 x 80cm piece offers a hyper-realistic look at a young child comforting an aging genetic mutation of a humanoid manatee.  As I spend time with this work I couldn’t help but connect it to my aging grandmother whom I had just visited over the holiday break.  The key connecting feature was the thinning hair which revealed age spots on the manatee’s head.  My own 95 year old grandmother was my primary caregiver when I would’ve been the child’s age and now she too is unable to walk and travel (like the sculpture).  Long Awaited 3

Uncomfortable emotions occurred within me as I invested myself in this work, leaving me with a deep desire to comfort the manatee as the child was.  The climax of my viewing was when I crouched own near the foot of the manatee and looked up at its face, which revealed a slight smile, allowing me to understand the comfort that a small child can bring to a ‘grotesque’ aged figure.

This was an absolutely wonderful exhibition for the Glenbow – one that I continue to process.  I am so glad to have been able to view it before it closes this week.

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