Lauren Scanlon – Fairy Tales and Romance Novels
I have appreciated Lauren Scanlon’s work since I first saw a presentation given by her at a conference several years ago. When I began the curatorial process for the Drawn and Quarto exhibit at Abecedarian Gallery I contacted Lauren to see if any of her current projects might fit the theme.
After some consideration Lauren agreed to create a body of work specifically for this exhibit. Lauren pulled it off even though she married, honeymooned, moved across country, then temporarily relocated to Canada, all during the brief time she had available to create this work. In addition to all of these complications, her camera and many studio supplies were stolen while she was on the road. Her perseverance paid off with a wonderful body of work that includes drawings on pages taken from books alongside a series of ‘shrouded’ books.
Here is what Lauren has to say about these works:
My recent work uses bedsheet designs as an entry point for investigating the pattern, structure and impact of a specific line of romance novels that I read when I was very young (10 years old). These novels were published as a more highly sexualized line of romance reading (than was currently available at the time).
In structure, the novels are thinly veiled recreations of classic fairytales such as Cinderella, Snow White or Bluebeard. Familiar situations and characters are present including cruel stepmothers, frightening husbands, and disenfranchised heroines in need of rescue. Having read them so young, my perception of them as fairytales is even more pronounced.
In many ways, these romance-novel-fairy-tales are much closer to the stories told by the Grimms Brothers than those told to us by Disney. Both the Grimms Tales and these romance stories contain truly frightening imagery – sexuality, violence and cruelty – that has largely been removed from recent fairytale incarnations as presented to us by contemporary narrators (in films like Cinderella Man or animated works by Disney).
The drawings presented here highlight the fairytale elements of the books while at the same time leaving the text available for you to read. Where possible, the images reflect some aspect of the narrative.
The objects are shrouded books. They are the exact romance novels that I read as a kid. They have been carved (eviscerated) with an exacto knife and shrouded for burial using domestic fabrics and gold thread. The use of bedsheets, pillowcases and curtains connects the text to the domestic realm and the specific location of a bedtime story. The decorative, often floral, patterns distract from the dark revelations of the text. This renders them relatively harmless and is an attempt to – figuratively speaking – put them to bed.
More details about these pieces as well as works by other artists included in the exhibit, available here: