Grosse Pointe ShoresAugust 1, 2012
Grimm fairytales are focus of art exhibit and special programs at Edsel and Eleanor Ford House
By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer
GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Stories that have been shared for generations are getting a new look as student and professional artists offer their take on tales by the Brothers Grimm in “Once Upon a Time: Grimmly Inspired.”
The fairytale art exhibit inside the South Cottage of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House opened July 28 and runs through Nov. 4. It coincides with the 200th anniversary of the first story published by the Brothers Grimm.
The exhibit focuses on eight Grimm stories, said Chris Shires, director of interpretation and programs at Ford House, in an email interview. Their exhibits team fabricated the exhibit in-house, he said.
The focus on work by the Brothers Grimm has given a unique perspective to this year’s exhibit and related programming.
“It’s an opportunity to look back at a literary landmark, to learn about the Grimm brothers and their interests,” Ford House curator Josephine Shea said in an email interview. “They weren’t initially even interested in creating children’s literature — they were cultural anthropologists who wanted to collect their heritage. But the results — and their stories evolved with each version they published — have just been so incredibly influential, not just for the movies and TV that might immediately come to mind, but music and dance (and) even advertising. ‘Once upon a time’ might just be one of the most recognizable phrases out there, along with, of course, ‘And they lived happily ever after.’ It connects with both tales that are shared across cultures — for example, there’s a Japanese folk tale that involves a girl who wears red that is threatened by a wolf — but also that literary/visual arts combination. For the exhibit, we include the well-known stories, but also some you might never have heard of, like ‘Hans my Hedgehog’ or ‘The Shuttle, Spindle and the Needle.’”
There are more than 60 local artists with work in the show, including artists hailing from the Grosse Pointes, Harrison Township, Farmington Hills, Clinton Township, Harper Woods, Sterling Heights, Roseville, Warren and Macomb Township. Some are from as far away as Colorado and California. Ford House coordinated with the Grosse Pointe Art Center in the call for entry, and GPAC Director Amy DeBrunner served as a juror, Shea said. Besides paintings and drawings, the exhibit includes textiles, photography and a glass mosaic, she said.
“It was an opportunity to for us to make new connections with the area artists, art students (and) their families, as well as area art instructors and libraries,” Shea said. “And the addition of newly created pieces makes for a richer experience. Our visitors can see both how a famed English illustrator was inspired by the Grimm stories, and how those stories continue to inspire today.”
She said Ford House officials videotaped interviews with several of the artists that can be seen on the Ford House YouTube channel, for anyone interested in greater insights into their works.
This year’s exhibit expands on what was done last year, said Ann Fitzpatrick, vice president of communications at Ford House. Besides work by local artists, it includes historic Grimm fairytale illustrations on loan from the Detroit Public Library and themed rooms, such as one made to resemble the house of Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, she said. An enchanted forest and a candy house are among the other creations visitors will encounter.
“They’re really creating much more sensory spaces,” Fitzpatrick explained.
There’s also a Storybook Landscape Discovery Trail that winds through Ford House grounds and gives families a chance to follow a map and share stories, games and adventures with their little ones. Special craft projects for children are scheduled each Saturday during the run of the exhibit.
“The exhibit elements invite visitors to enter the story and include several activities as part of the experience,” Shires said.
Programs for youths and adults are scheduled in the coming weeks. For children, these include Fairy Tale Twilight Desserts Aug. 7, 9, 15, 21 and 23; Fairy House and Terrarium Workshop Aug. 11 and Sept. 8; and Fairy Tale Quests Aug. 18, and Sept. 15 and 29. Adults can listen to an Aug. 16 talk by Wayne State University professor Donald Hasse on “Grimm’s Fairy Tales: The Real Story”; and one by fellow WSU professor Anne Duggan Sept. 13 on “The Pied Piper: Franco-American Versions of a German Legend.”
“Generations of children have grown up with Grimm fairytales,” Shires said. “Our focus on Grimm reminds us of our childhoods and introduces these timeless classics to the next generation of young people.”
Shea said admission to the exhibit is free with purchase of a house tour or grounds pass, or for those who dine at the Cotswold Café or purchase items at the Gaukler Pointe Gift Shop, both of which are located in the Activities Building.
The Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore, between Vernier and Nine Mile roads. For program reservations or more information, visit www.fordhouse.org or call (313) 884-4222.
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