Carly Swenson • Intuitive Artist

2011: altered endings

As I mentioned in my previous artistic themes post, fairy tales has always captivated me.  As an adult, they still hold a certain allure for me that is difficult to explain. Aesthetically, I love the iconographic associations we all have with very basic fairy tale imagery—a half eaten apple, a red cloak, a glass slipper, or a deliciously edible cottage.  The faintest resemblance to anything of this nature automatically provokes thoughts pertaining to that fairy tale world which has been so deeply ingrained within many of us since childhood.  I am also interested in the subtle implications and lessons conveyed to children through these stories.  These stories stimulate young imaginations while instilling a strong sense of wrong and right. Good versus evil is a prominent theme in these stories, convincing young children that while fire-breathing dragons, beautiful fairy princesses, and magical kingdoms may only exist within their vivid imaginations, decisions pertaining to right and wrong are made each day.  People need to be honest and fair, everything is clearly on one side or the other, with none of real life’s circumstantial ambiguities.  Through these stories we teach children life is fair when they are good, we teach them that good will always triumph, and evil will never prevail. Fairy tales provide children with cautionary tales, for example, don’t talk to strangers—or else a scary wolf will more than likely eat your beloved sickly grandmother?

These pages contain imagery representing my aforementioned fairy tale fascination combined with my understanding of contemporary culture, societal expectations and my own feminist tendencies. I have an innocent naivety within me that appreciates the simplicity of good always triumphing over evil, the restoration of justice during troubled times, the romance of unending love, and the safety of happily ever after.  It is all so happy, innocent and charming, yet I can’t help but feel my childhood stories have intentionally deceived me.  As all adults know, life isn’t fair.  As disheartening as it is, far more often then not—it seems evil does win.  Evil doesn’t have those irritating morals, and pesky integrity forcing him to fight fair.

I wanted to apply an element of reality to fairy tale themes.  I explored this internal dichotomy and conflict between my childhood perceptions and my adult perspective.  In real life, metaphorically speaking, sometimes lost children do get eaten by witches, fairy godmothers rarely arrive—or they arrive late at best.

My feminist perspective is evident in my pages based on The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Snow White and The Princess and the Pea.  These stories are centered around a main female character, but a female character who is incomplete until she has won the heart of her man.  Each story is essentially a form of life conflict, she doesn’t have the prince, something happens, she gets her perfect husband (maybe something else happens?) and life is happy-ever-after from that moment on.  By simply altering these tales with short phrases the entire message of the tales is changed, despite the familiar characters.  The women make their own decisions for their lives—instead of life happening to them.

The Frog Prince, 6in x 6in visual journal pages, 2011
The Frog Prince • 6in x 6in • visual journal pages • Carly Swenson • 2011
Hansel & Gretel, 6in x 6in visual journal pages, 2011
Hansel & Gretel • 6in x 6in • visual journal pages • Carly Swenson • 2011
The Princess & the Pea, 6in x 6in visual journal pages, 2011
The Princess & the Pea • 6in x 6in • visual journal pages • Carly Swenson • 2011
Rapunzel, 6in x 6in visual journal pages, 2011
Rapunzel • 6in x 6in • visual journal pages • Carly Swenson • 2011
Sleeping Beauty, 6in x 6in visual journal pages, 2011
Sleeping Beauty • 6in x 6in • visual journal pages • Carly Swenson • 2011
Snow White, 6in x 6in visual journal pages, 2011
Snow White • 6in x 6in • visual journal pages • Carly Swenson • 2011
Little Red Riding Hood, 6in x 6in visual journal pages, 2011
Little Red Riding Hood • 6in x 6in • visual journal pages • Carly Swenson • 2011

9 Replies to “2011: altered endings”

  1. I love fairy tales, but I love this even more! Have you ever read any Neil Gaiman? His writing has a lot of fairy tail feeling to it (especially the short story collections)


    1. I have not read that, I should look into it. Have you ever seen the television series “Pushing Daisies”? It only lasted about a season and a half, but it was sort of like a fairy tale for adults. I loved it.


      1. I’ve been told to give it a look before but never have, thanks for the recommendation! Try his books ‘smoke and mirrors’ or ‘fragile things’.


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