Psychopathic Wolf

The act of deception in Little Red Riding Hood is intriguing due to its lack of necessity. Why would the wolf not just eat her up and be it done with? That is the stuff of nightmares, a trusted loved one, in a comforting situation turning out to be a dangerous psychopath. I am assuming that Little Red Riding Hood had spent quit a bit of time at her Grandmother’s house over the years; it would be a feeling of safety that is betrayed. The fact that the wolf wants to eat Little Red Riding Hood is not what is disturbing, it is a wolf after all. What is disturbing is that the wolf puts on Grandma’s clothing. As soon as he does that he becomes a psychotic serial killer, joining the likes of Norman Bates, Buffalo Bill, Leather Face, or Hannibal Lector. The repetition or ritual of the dialog between the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood gives even more credence to this fact that the wolf is psychotic. He could have just eaten her in the forest, or as soon as she walked into Grandma’s house if he had wanted to eat the grandmother as well. Instead, he dresses in Grandmas clothing, has Little Red Riding Hood eat her own grandmother, then has her get into bed with him, all before planning to eat her.   These are the actions of a psychopath.

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The Evil Stepsisters

Cinderella is an interesting story because of the role of the evil Stepsisters and the punishment that they are forced to endure in the Brothers Grimm version. The magnitude of that punishment is what makes the story so compelling, it begins with the self-mutilation of their feet, and ends with blindness. The punishment they receive is out of proportion with their sins of greed and jealousy. They want to be well taken care of and to live the sort of lifestyle most people only dream of, and for trying to fulfill that desire they are doomed to begging for the rest of their lives. The facelessness of Cinderella herself is also an important part of the story; she is defined by the characters around her and has no power of her own. The women in Cinderella fit two categories, the action orientated sinner, or the passive saint. In much of the Brothers Grimm, taking action, and speaking one’s mind is associated with evil women and punishment. On the other hand, passivity is almost always rewarded with a fortuitous marriage at the end; at times with an extreme amount of suffering on the way to this end.

 

2013-11-08 20.27.57 2013-10-25 18.49.09

Based on Grimm's Cinderella

Based on Grimm’s Cinderella

Based on Grimm’s Cinderella

Artist Statement

Storytelling is a major aspect of Annie Aube’s work. The embroidery medium adds to the rustic charm as well its historical role. Mythology and Folklore has always been an interest of hers, and her obsession with transformations, with magic, epitomizes the roles of Fairy Tales in both their modern and historical contexts. With a needle and thread, Annie juxtaposes the adorable with the violent; the imagery of Folk Art and Contemporary Surrealism to create Surreal Folk Art.

 

I would like to thank my good friend Melissa Meszaros for all help in creating my Artist Statement, she is a wonderful writer. You can buy her latest book here: http://www.amazon.com/Smile-But-Who-Am-Kidding/dp/1300585846/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386276979&sr=8-1&keywords=melissa+meszaros

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Hanging, 2013, 7″ diameter, Annie Aube, Hand Embroidery on vintage doily, http://www.annieaube.com

 

Surreal Folk Art

 

Surreal 

1:  marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream; also:  unbelievable, fantastic

 Surrealism

: A 20th-century art form in which an artist or writer combines unrelated images or events in a very strange and dreamlike way

:  The principles, ideals, or practice of producing fantastic or incongruous imagery or effects in art, literature, film, or theater by means of unnatural or irrational juxtapositions and combinations

Folk Art

:  The traditional typically anonymous art of usually untrained people

Art produced in a traditional fashion by peasants, seamen, country artisans, or tradespeople with no formal training, or by members of a social or ethnic group that has preserved its traditional culture. It is predominantly functional, typically produced by hand for use by the maker or by a small group or community. Paintings are usually incorporated as decorative features on clock faces, chests, chairs, and interior and exterior walls. Sculptural objects in wood, stone, and metal include toys, spoons, candlesticks, and religious items. Folk architecture may include public and residential buildings, such as eastern European wooden churches and [United States] frontier log cabins. Other examples of visual folk arts are woodcuts, scrimshaw, pottery, textiles, and traditional clothing.

 (All the above definitions were found on: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ )

 

Over the last couple months I have been having an internal debate over how I should describe my artwork and which terminology best describes my work. I have always avoided doing this because I didn’t want to put my artwork in a box and was afraid of limiting my artistic output.  That is probably a pretty typical response from an artist, but the flip side is how do you talk about your own work if you don’t have the right words?  So, as many artists before me, I took on the terminology used to describe two of my major influences; these two types of art, though different, are the tradition from which I feel that I come. Even though I was trained as an artist with a BA in Art and maybe one day a MFA, my art is firmly entrenched in a Folk Art tradition.  I work using mediums which have been traditionally associated with Folk Art, sewing, embroidery, dying, and other textile based hand crafts.  One day I also hope to add stained glass, wood carving and ceramics. I’m interested in the old methods of producing art, and in the finely crafted object. I also love the unrefined and raw nature of traditional folk art, which seems to fit so well with the subject matter I have chosen. 

Surrealism has been something that has been influential to my artwork, and also my life, as a whole. Dreamlike imagery has always appealed to my aesthetic sense of things; plus, by its very nature, many of the fairy tales which influence my work so heavily also have dreamlike and disturbing imagery in them.  I have sometimes wondered if I belong in the Pop-Surrealism/Lowbrow category, I know that they have welcomed some other wonderful embroidery artists like Megan Whitmarsh: http://meganwhitmarsh.com/, and Jenny Hart: http://www.jennyhart.net/, but I have never truly felt comfortable in that category – though I really love the aesthetic.  Pop art seems in many ways to be the opposite of Folk Art, even though both seem outside of the mainstream art tradition.  My “Surreal Folk Art” shares many similarities with Pop-Surrealism/Lowbrow.  There is an emphasis on the figurative and the building of a narrative, as well as the importance of technical skill; the finely crafted object is important to my sense of making work. When looking for galleries in which to show my art, Pop-Surrealism/Lowbrow galleries are the ones I focus more heavily on, mostly because they seem as if they might be more accepting of different artistic traditions and types of art.

Lately I have become increasingly interested in making more functional craft objects: clothes, scarves and other such items.  I want to continue to make my own fine art pieces meant for wall display, but I have been feeling the need to diversify.  There seems to be some irony in this since, I have finally found the terminology I want to use to describe my art work, and that now I am branching out to do other things; such is life I guess.

 

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Monsters, 16″ w x 26″ h, 2013, Annie Aube, see more at http://www.annieaube.com

Concerning Fairy Tales

The role of Fairy Tales and Mythology in the work that I make cannot be understated; it has become part of my reason to make art.  When I first became interested in Embroidering I was making pretty typical non-representational fiber art pieces, but then I read the book The Subversive Stitch by Rozsika Parker and it changed my life.  I wanted to do some embroidery but was at a total loss for what I should do, embroidery is more pictorially based – this is not true across the board but is often the case.  So I thought long and hard about it and came to the conclusion that I needed to focus on Mythology, Religion and Folklore.

It was a natural choice seeing that I had been obsessed with Mythology since I was about five and learned about Greek Mythology.  I had written out study cards with each god, their attributes, and the stories which they most commonly associated with.  I had learned this behavior from watching my mother, who was at that time going to college for a degree in History.  Mine were clumsy and misspelled, but in hindsight seems like pretty extreme behavior for a little kid. I also became obsessed with Lord of the Rings, and through that Norse Mythology, at a really early age and have since read the series probably about fifteen times. So the decision to focus on the subjects that I did was a pretty easy choice; it also didn’t hurt that I was reading a book about Hindu Goddesses. 

Image Chinnamasta, 2007, 12″x12″Hand Embroidery on Cotton, Annie Aube

Thus Chinnamasta was born; she is one of the only embroideries that I refuse to sell.  The style of the work has changed, as has the skill level, but she is still the grandmother of them all, and I hope to get a tattoo of her one day.  As time has gone on I have gotten further and further away from dealing with Mythology and Religion and its myriad of Gods and Goddesses.  Embroidery as a Folk Art medium seems best suited to the more intimate world of Fairy Tales. I have focused in on that as well, mostly using European tales, being of European ancestry it is easier for me to focus in on these traditions.  The Brothers Grimm, Perrault, and W.B. Yeats have been my main influences over the years, each taking their turn in influencing my work.  I have gotten away from the idea of illustrating the stories, my work does not have to be a pure illustration of what is happening in the story, but can be changed and other elements added in – which is why often times the description says “loosely based” off the story.  The surreal nature of Fairy Tales is what is so intriguing, with transformations, hauntings, and at times extreme violence they have had a major impact on me and the work that I create.   

Our society automatically thinks of Disney when they think of Fairy Tales, the Disney Princesses who get their “Prince Charming” at the end have had an influence on several generations of women now.  I am not interested in those stories; I want the older, raw, visceral version of those stories.  The original stories about Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White include such topics as dismemberment, cannibalism, and torture.  The Little Mermaid dies at the end of the original Hans Christian Anderson version of the story; and Mermaids have been associated with the deaths of sailors and prostitution since the Middle Ages, but more on all these stories later.  I feel that the gentrification of these stories has caused us to lose something as a society.  We may have gotten rid of the sexism that these stories had, but in the process created something insipid in the process, something which lacks soul.  Plus, like it or not, the sexism is part of the history of humanity, and especially part of Fairy Tales.

ImageSisters #3, 2013, 15″ w x 17″ h, Hand Embroidery on Linen, Annie Aube

Christmas Shopping

So I had planned to write up my current statement as an artist, discussing all of the themes that I am currently interested in. But I’ve been meeting so many wonderful artists, or finding new and amazing artists through Pinterest that I wanted to feature them. I’ve come across so many great artists that this will not be an exhaustive list, and I may have to do future posts. So this year give the gift of art to the ones you love, its something they can cherish and you can feel good about supporting the arts.

 

Rebecca Chaperon: http://thechaperon.ca/  Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thechaperon/

She is a Canadian artist that I happened to find on Pinterest. I love her work especially her series Great Black Fire, and wish I had money to by her Eerie Dearies book.

 

Mary Tapogna: http://www.marytapogna.com/

Portland artist Mary Tapogna does wonderful mosaics, which can be bought through her website or at several shops around Portland.

 

Rebecca Artemisa: http://therebeccaartemisa.blogspot.com/

I love her work so much that it is almost impossible for me to describe. It’s wistful, sweet, and dark all in the same moment, its reminiscent of folk art and Surrealism.

 

Cherri Wood: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fysimone/

Lovely dark story telling at its best! Hidden faces that add a touch of horror and mystery.  Each piece leaves you wanting to know more, and seem to invite you to finish the story in your own mind.  I met her while working at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do.

 

David E Stein: http://www.davidestein.com/news

I’m a sucker for art that tells a story or invites the viewer to create their own.  His surreal landscapes and disfigured characters seem to share similarities with the work of Hieronymus Bosch and Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland.

 

Daniel Haile: http://www.danielhaile.com/illustration.html

I met Daniel volunteering at the Museum of Contemporary Craft here in Portland. Not only is he a really nice guy but his work is incredible, its poignant and well crafted.