Monday, September 21, 2009

Ugly Girl with Flowers from Academe Obscure

The colors are magic: a field of black lit with topaz against which a human figure and sprays of flowers glow in uncompromising light.

The girl is a study in human ordinariness.

“Do you see what he is doing?” says Caspar. “Do you see his efforts, do you understand?”

She can’t speak.

“He has used the—the grammar of your features to spell out a sentence. Do you know what it says?”

She isn’t sure she can hear the dreadful painting say anything.

“It says only one thing. It says: Aren’t the flowers beautiful?”

Ugly Girl with Flowers was inspired by Gregory Maguire’s ‘Tales of an Ugly Stepsister’. The painting is described in the tale where the unremarkable plainness of a girl is used to demonstrate how much more beautiful are the flowers in comparison to her. They are only that much more heightened by her homeliness.

This book was created for the Academe Obscure: A Library Beyond Description gallery showing at the TAC 25 in Tacoma. I found the idea of a realization of beauty - or lack thereof - quite moving; the sheer crushing of spirit that one must feel to realize that the world would call them ugly is like the innocence of nakedness being revealed as though it were shameful and embarrassing.

For the cover, I’ve created my own illustration of the painting and framed it with a border of thorns, upon spray of petals. The book is covered entirely with red velveteen rose petals and silk green leaves for the spine. Inside the page signatures alternate between sage green and blushing pale pink parchment.

On the inner cover, the quote illuminates the contrast between the mediocre painting and the loveliness of the book with its vibrant colors and cultivated flower petals.

Is it not more shameful that we live in a world that traps people under the knowledge of their own 'ugliness' rather than one which gives wings to the contrast that creates the illusion of beauty?

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