ZaPow! Gallery Presents Wonderland
This unique exhibit presents viewers with the opportunity to walk through the complete text of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass as retold via the illustrations created by ZaPow Artists. Wonderland will run until the end of May 2015.
The concept for the Wonderland show came from ZaPow Artist, Joshua Marc Levy of Asheville Art Family. “I was born the same day as Lewis Carroll, Jan 27, and always felt a strong connection to this highly creative adventure. It has influenced decisions I have made in life and art, which have allowed my creativity to take giant leaps at a time. We are throwing a fresh spin on the story and characters. Zapow artists have been instructed to steer clear of Disney, and read the books for their own vision to form. Kids, old and young, will love this art show. ” Said Levy.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (often shortened to Alice in Wonderland,) was originally published in 1865 and written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Dodgson was an intensely private academic who published scholarly articles on advance mathematics and Symbolic Logic as part of his fellowship at Oxford University’s College of Christ Church. His passion for logic puzzles and reasoning is easily seen in passages such as in chapter one when in the midst of shrinking Alice waxes philosophic concerning what her size will be “going out altogether, like a candle”; thus she is contemplating the concept of a limit.
To understand the world of Wonderland and what inspired Dodgson’s nonsensical whimsy one must first consider the culture of Victorian England. By all accounts, his contemporaries considered him a sort of child-loving saint. As a fellow at Christ Church College, remaining celibate was a condition of his employment. According to his journals, Dodgson believed that “having sex was against God’s wishes for him.”
Many scholars believe that Dodgson’s imposed sexual repression contributed to his preference for the company of children. Unlike today’s American society—which sexualizes youth—especially female youth—children during the Victorian era were seen as pure creatures free from sex. Dodgson became a sort of uncle to the children of the Liddel family. One July afternoon in 1862 Dodgson took the three Liddell sisters on a river trip and told them the story that would become Alice. The Mad Hatter, Chesire Cat, Caterpillar, Do Do and many more were born as allegory for figures in the real life of Alice Liddel.
It is well documented that Dodgson did not do drugs but beginning in the 1960’s artists drew similarities between the tales of Alice and their own experiences with illicit substances. Jefferson Airplane’s Song Go Ask Alice and Mark McCloud’s blotter artwork of Alice goes through the looking glass are two of the most famous instances of drug inspired Alice art in contemporary American Culture. Jefferson Airplane sang “One pill makes you larger, And one pill makes you small” while the FBI spent millions to run a sting operation on American blotter artist Mark McCloud only to discover that his blotter artwork—that was on display—was LSD-free.
When asked about her contribution to the group show, ZaPow artist Rebecca Rouse stated that her re-imagining of Mark McCloud’s famous blotter art “presupposes that when Alice went through the glass, she entered inside her own reflection into the space where time and identity meet. Where nothing is impossible.”
Whether Lewis Carroll aka Dodgson was aware of the meanings subconsciously or not—it is his use of creative allegory for universal concepts such as frustration, alienation, abandonment, the challenge of transition to adulthood, the perils of authoritarian justice and self identity that lends the Alice stories to such vivid artistic interpretation. In Rouse’s words “The ZaPow group show will be an evolved Wonderland where things you’ve never imagined may appear right before your eyes!”