Faulconer Gallery Exhibition Explores Fairy Tales in an Anxious World

January 31, 2019

A traveling exhibition, Dread & Delight: Fairy Tales in an Anxious World, runs from Friday, Feb. 1, through April 27, in the Faulconer Gallery.

The exhibition brings together the work of 21 contemporary artists using familiar fairy tales as a radical visual and verbal vocabulary with which to examine the staggering complexities of contemporary life. Works by Kerry James Marshall, Kiki Smith, David Hockney, Carrie Mae Weems, Tom Otterness and many others explore ideas of beauty, security, danger, and acceptance. In recalling specific stories, some of the artists have embraced their promises of change and championship of the disenfranchised. Others, however, have plumbed their darker elements – poverty, addiction, and exploitations of power. Many of the fairy tales featured in Dread & Delight are familiar (Snow White, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood). Others are lesser known and provide an opportunity to explore the rich breadth of the fairy tale tradition.

Throughout the exhibition, one finds the artists have engaged with fairy tales across time – from early Italian, French, and German anthologies to Walt Disney’s 20th-century animations to postmodern retellings by authors such as Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood.

Fairy tales began long ago as stories for adults, and like those darker beginnings, this exhibition contains mature content.

Dread & Delight is organized by the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and curated by Emily Stamey ’01. She has been curator of exhibitions at the Weatherspoon since 2015.

Stamey also is author of the exhibition catalogue, a scholarly publication charting five decades of fairy tales in the visual arts. Prior to joining Weatherspoon, Stamey was curator of contemporary art at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona and curator of modern and contemporary art at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University in Kansas. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Her publications include Stocked: Contemporary Art from the Grocery Aisles, written to accompany the exhibition of the same name shown at Faulconer Gallery in 2013.

Stamey will give a Curator’s Talk titled Why Fairy Tales? at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1. The opening reception will follow at 4:45 p.m. All Faulconer events are free and open to the public.

Additional events to be held in Faulconer Gallery include:

  • Once Upon A Time Wolf, 7 p.m. Feb. 8-9, a solo dance and spoken word performance by Celeste Miller, assistant professor of dance. Although this event is free, tickets are required. They will be available, starting Feb. 4, at the box office in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, which is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Artists@Grinnell Gallery Talk, 4 p.m. April 8, presented by Natalie Frank, an artist in the exhibition who will speak about her drawings of unsanitized fairy tales and the ways fairy tales have inspired her perception of contemporary life.
  • 20 Minutes@11, 11 a.m. April 23, presented by Alissa Nutting, assistant professor of English and writer in residence, reading from her original fairy tales and discussing their narrative aspects and recent fairy tale scholarship.

The traveling exhibition, which first opened at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, will close at the Faulconer Gallery at 5 p.m. on April 27. It will then travel to the Akron Art Museum in Ohio, where it will be on view from June 29 through Sept. 22.

Faulconer Gallery Hours and Location

Faulconer Gallery, which is free and open to the public, is housed in Grinnell College’s Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell. The gallery serves the educational mission of the college while also giving students and the general public the chance to interact with a diverse range of artistic exhibitions, from easel paintings and installation art to drawings, video and fairy tales. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The gallery is closed on Sundays and major holidays.


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