Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mouse, The Easter Bunny

It did occur to me on occasion that my mother might have had high artistic hopes for me when I was young. She captured and catalogued my "output" as if she was curating the future wing of a museum dedicated to my "early works in crayon." This one was called "Mouse, The Easter Bunny" and reveals an early example of my tendency to adapt my work to my abilities, or lack thereof. If an attempted Easter bunny, for example, started looking like a mouse, mid-crayon, I would simply change the title of the piece to reflect what ended up on the page. This technique can be traced forward and found beyond two dimensions in my behavior as an adult. If I set out to do something and lose interest or find myself not up the task, I simply restate the goal. Rename the picture. Add an extra tail if necessary or some jarring but vague emotion in the face. The technical term is bullshitting, and I think it's a technique that gets an unnecessarily bad rap.

45 year old Jim critiques 4 year old Jimmy's drawing: This was definitely intended to be the Easter bunny but it somehow veered into a full-on mouse. The tell-tale cottontail is there on the lower abdomen. And yet there is also a tail at the bottom which would, ostensibly, belong to the mouse. Three legs, drawn as simple lines, protrude from the body along the right side but the fourth is on its own on the left side. I suspect the legs that are adjacent to each other at the bottom are the hind legs and not just an attempt to correct for a leg imbalance favoring the right with a last ditch leg allocated to the left. I perceive the creature facing the viewer but twisted slightly to its left with the two upper/fore legs shown as they would protrude from an animal that is usually on all fours, but standing here up on two hind legs, the other two free for wielding perhaps a basket or who knows what. The head definitely leans mouse, with the ears clearly not floppy like a bunny's. The apparent glasses I cannot explain, while the nose and mouth emanate mousy accuracy and emotion. What is Mouse, the Easter Bunny uttering, with his square mouth open in anthropomorphic despair or desire? Jimmy responds: Actually, I had been reading a book called Santa Mouse at the time and though Easter was coming, I was working on a connection between animal "mascots" and the way they fueled a child's social conditioning to value material possessions, toys, candy, etc. above all else. This was just a preliminary sketch that morphed Santa Mouse and the Easter bunny. I think you're bullshit about this being an early example of your eventual lazy, short-cut infested tendencies, is an insult to the actually quite thoughtful, measured, and thorough works of my 4th year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Mouse, The Easter Bunny" is a none too subtle metaphor for post-modernism's departure from a rigid esthetic, as well as a plea for a more cautious, rational approach to paper-and-crayon deconstructionism. Naturally that was a much more valid and logical direction for your work to take in the heady days before the hard-core finger-painting faction asserted itself. But you made a determined effort despite knowing that you faced the real possibility of marginalization. Whatever the outcome, you should be saluted.