Archetypes, Power, and Puppets

Kara Walker's shadow-puppet video "Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi's Blue Tale" (2011) is one of the featured works in The College of Wooster Art Museum's season-opening exhibition, "Archetypes, Power, and Puppets." (Image courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York).

 

Power of Puppetry Personified in College of Wooster Art Museum Exhibition

“Archetypes, Power & Puppets” opens Sept. 22 in Ebert Art Center

01 September, 2015 by John Finn

 WOOSTER, Ohio — From Punch and Judy to Howdy Doody, puppets have long had the power to influence — not just children, but also adults — and that persuasive power will be personified this fall when The College of Wooster Art Museum (CWAM) presents “Archetypes, Power & Puppets” in Ebert Art Center (1220 Beall Ave.).

The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, debuts Sept. 22 and continues through Nov. 22. The opening reception will be Thursday, Sept. 24 from 6:30-8 p.m. with a gallery talk at 7 p.m. There will also be an artist talk by Wayne White, on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. in Room 223 of Ebert Art Center. In addition, a series of Tuesday Tours has been added this year, affording visitors an opportunity to drop in for a guided tour any Tuesday at noon.

“Puppets derive much of their efficacy through the use of archetypal characters,” says Kitty McManus Zurko, director and curator of The College of Wooster Art Museum. “An archetype is a uniquely powerful form of communication, defined as a ‘recurring symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology.’”

Zurko adds that such archetypes have tremendous power for modeling behavior, storing collective morals and memories, and defining universal typologies. “The utility of archetypes finds its origins in early cultures,” she says. “They can be especially socially productive when they elucidate and acknowledge what are often uncomfortable truths.”

 The exhibition showcases six contemporary artists from New York, Los Angeles, and London in the CWAM’s Sussel Gallery. They include Wayne White and Kara Walker, who explore the layered complexities of U.S. history in the South, and Tom Thayer, My Barbarian, and Anne Chu who manipulate familiar aspects of puppet theatre in unfamiliar ways through painting, sculpture, and video. In addition, the British artist, Jonathan Baldock, presents an oversized fabric emoji face as commentary on how history repeats itself.

 In the adjacent Burton D. Morgan Gallery, a selection of traditional puppets from The College of Wooster Art Museum’s permanent collection and The Mariska Marker Puppet Collection, sponsored by Wooster’s Departments of Sociology/Anthropology and Theatre and Dance, will be on display. In addition, a 2011 TED TALK featuring the Handspring Puppet Company co-founders Adrian Kohler (artistic director) and Basil Jones (executive producer) demonstrates the subtleties involved in making a puppet “live” on stage. Visitors will have a chance to try their hand at puppetry by using hand puppets to create their own alter egos.

 The College of Wooster Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. The Museum will be closed Oct. 10-19 for fall break. Additional information is available by on the CWAM’s website, or by phone (330-263-2388) or e-mail.