October 8, 2008

air sweet air

Air sweet air
Cheryl Wilgren Clyne

The 15 images included in the Harry M. Drake Gallery exhibit are playful with a sharp menacing edge. This is a world where Sally, Dick and Jane-like children frolic and play in a cotton candy apocalyptic landscape. The children within the images appear to be clean, healthy, and strong all the while not fazed or complaining about being placed in a rocky, barren, world where a pink explosion is forever shaping their landscape. Although some of the children have a bear head growing out their necks, they seem not to mind.

I wonder if the bear heads mask the children’s disillusion or the bear heads make their environment livable. Perhaps the bear heads provide them with a shield to live in the adult-world that creates catastrophes that can potentially lead to the end of the world.

The process of “reading? the images creates a need to construct a vocabulary of components:
Rocky barren landscape
Atomic explosion
Bear head(s)
Idyllic cartoon characters from the 1950’s

After spending time looking at the images, re-seeing them in my mind, and thinking about their meaning, I believe the images tell me stories about the resiliency of children living in an adult world, their lives and memories of childhood being shaped by adult actions. Making their way amongst the danger and unfriendly environment, children become half animals (friendly yet wild) in order to survive in the adult world.