Saturday, May 05, 2007

Here is to Ingenious and Unsophisticated Imagination

Jessica and I made a pilgrimage to The Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe today. This little gem of a museum houses my absolutely hands down favorite collection of objects; "Multiple Visions; Common Bond." It was such fun to go through it again, especially in the midst of all the thinking I'm doing about how to define creativity and art making. This beautiful collection was amassed by the Girard's who spent their lives together collecting toys, masks, textiles and ephemera. Alexander Girard was a famous textile and interior designer and he personally designed the permanent exhibition which is a fantastic collection of almost 150, 000 objects.

Some favorites of mine include the gorgeous Polish tinfoil castles (they must have been at least three feet high, totally covered in intricate designs). They are made with silver, pink and pale peach foils. I don't know where they found colored foils, but I have to find some myself. They were beautiful fairy homes with fantastic turrets and little flags. There was also a collection of Hopi Native American clay figures, and two of them were little white tourists taking photos of the ceremonies, complete with tiny cameras with rhinestones for the lenses. And of course, there were my old favorites; the gigantic Italian doll house that a small child could literally enter, filled with clay figures almost a foot tall and furniture to scale. Such fun. Looking at a collection that took a lifetime of travel and searching to build was really inspiring as Eric and I have a whole lifetime of travel stretching ahead of us. The collection is so full of whimsy, fun, play, humor and yet still so full of human realities; one exhibit from Mexico is a funeral scene, the room filled with kneeling figures surrounding a man on his death bed. A lone light bulb illuminates the scene as the women dry their eyes with handkerchiefs.

Alexander Girard said of his collection; "Toys represent a microcosm of man’s world and dreams. They exhibit fantasy, imagination, humor and love. They are an invaluable record and expression of mans ingenious unsophisticated imagination." Amen brother. We all need more of that.

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