An Awakening (part 2)

April 11, 2018

whale neptune

Image of Neptune-Whale was inspired by a nineteenth-century Native American textile design, drawing by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

Reversing the positions of humans and animals in imaginary depictions was a tactic used to teach children that human and animals suffering was comparable. More than twenty years before the establishment of the San Francisco SPCA in 1868, Lydia Maria Child (1802-1888) selected a story for her Rainbows for Children book that employed rhetoric related to humane treatment of animals in her children’s stories: if you don’t like this treatment yourselves, then don’t do it to us. This logic still can be applied to all minority groups today.

As the story, “Fanny’s Menagerie,” edited by Child, continues, an elephant stomps into the room, shouting, “I want my ivory back! Who carried off my tusks?” The elephant seizes Fanny’s treasured little ivory basket and he quips as he exits with the basket, “It is of no use to me now, but I should like to carry it home to show my little elephants.”

Soon little yellow canary flies into Fanny’s bedroom and she is very sad, the maple tree that has been her home was cut down to make Fanny’s wooden chair. Fanny realizes that she is using products made at the expense of other living creatures and this makes her very sad.

Neptune floats into Fanny’s room on the back of a whale demanding, “Who stole the oil from my favorite whale!” Neptune lifts Fanny’s oil lamp and sails out of the room with it.

Then a fluffy gray squirrel enters, demanding to know, “Who took my nuts?” Fanny feels most awkward since she just took the nuts for her cat to play with, not realizing that they were a food source other animals. When the squirrel realizes that his dinner was a toy for Fanny’s cat, he started pelting her with the stolen nuts.

Poor Fanny wonders what will come next until a great horse enters her room in a fury and rips up her mattress made his hair to shreds before trotting off.

Fanny awakens and realizes that she has only been dreaming. Will she change her ways?

Source: Lydia Maria Child. 1847. “Fanny’s Menagerie,” Rainbows for Children. Boston: Ticknor and Fields: 119-131.

red pony

A little red pony from the magician’s shadow box inspired by an ancient carving of a reclining horse found at a burial site at Tuva, Siberia, design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

Pony Notecard

Lydia Maria Child (1802-1888) in her story called, “The Magician’s Shadow Box,” explores human wanderlust with a protagonist named Gaspar. Exposed to progressive international objects and ideas in the small ordinary village where he lives, Gaspar becomes frustrated and runs away into the forest where he is confronted with the natural world. At a first milestone, he throws a stone at a bullfrog that croaks and dives for safety into a nearby pond. At a second milestone, Gaspar unthinkingly throws a pebble at a bird that takes flight, releasing an apple from a tree. Child suggests that Gaspar does not intent to harm these creatures; he has just been thoughtless. At a third milestone, Gaspar meets a mysterious little man cracking chestnuts that for some reason he just cannot pass. Try as he may, the little man will not let Gaspar pass until he has shown him the objects in his little carved shadow box. The little man asserts: “Come now, it is foolish for you to go trudging about all over the world. You will never see anything more than pollywogs and sandflies, and those you can find in your native village…”

Gaspar takes the little man’s chestnuts and returns home. He exchanges them for a horse that he believes will carry him out into a bigger world. However, the horse he receives is mechanical and does not have a soul. Once on the horse, Gaspar finds himself on a journey from which he cannot stop or disembark to explore what his heart truly seeks. Gaspar again returns to his village with a collection of epic imaginings and opens his own curio museum curated with his own creative imaginings. Everyone is very impressed, except for a girl named Hope who has her own take on things. Gaspar takes Hope to meet the little man with the chestnuts, and Hope offers him sprits (wine) for a glimpse at his treasure trove, but she is not impressed. Hope observes: ‘All very pretty, but rather stiff and monotonous… not so good as you can paint, Gaspar. Come, let us go home.”

Source: Lydia Maria Child. (1856). “The Magician’s Shadow Box” The Magician’s Shadow Box and other stories. Boston.

Catfish

“One catfish does not make a creek make, nor one hero a nation,” words by The Iconoclast, and image by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

Catfish Notecard

zaid

“Grace went searching for the first couple who dared to open their eyes in Eden.” Poem called “Evolution” by Gabriel Zaid and imaginary “Eden” designed by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

little-start

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are! Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky. When the blazing sun is gone, When he nothing shines upon, Then you show your little light, Twinkle, twinkle, all the night. Then the traveler in the dark Thanks you for your tiny sparks. He could not see which way to go, If you did not twinkle so. In the dark blue sky you keep, And often through my curtains peep, For you never shut your eye ‘Till the sun is in the sky. As your bright and tiny spark Lights the traveler in the dark, Though I know not what you are, Twinkle, twinkle, little star.” Poem by Jane Taylor (1783-1824), design by Meredith Eliassen, 2015.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star” card

Meet “my cat”…

August 8, 2016

Meet my three-legged cat that has a whimsy that may not be appreciated by all, but to me is lovable. To me this quote speaks to posterity of an essential truth: that each generation has values that are dear, and each generation must define and fight for their truths.

Will-Need_Someone

“I will need someone to feed my cat when I leave this world, Though my cat is not ordinary. She only has three paws: fire, air, water.” Words by 14th century Persian poet Hafiz, image by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

More from Dante…

August 4, 2016

Dante_blue

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) “Puro e disposta a salire alle stella=Pure and disposed to mount unto the stars.” Purgatorio, canto 33, 1, 145. Creature of Celtic design, by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

Norma (1831) composed by Vincenzo Belini (1801-1835) and based upon the libretto by Felice Romani (1788-1865) tells the epic story of a Druid priestess who breaks her vows and bears two children of a Roman soldier only to discover he has fallen in love with a younger woman. This quintessential bel canto opera was one of the first to be performed in Gold Rush San Francisco.

Norma

Design featuring Celtic motifs from the “Book of Kells” by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

Hope defined

June 29, 2016

Now_faith_is_the_substance

Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 1:11) Hope. To have trust and understanding. Drawing by Meredith Eliassen, spring 2016.

Sonnevi

“And Feel the scent of water above the scent of earth a faint wind makes me look up see the water.” English translation of words by Swedish poet Göran Sonnevi, design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

And another seascape drawn with a Sharpie pen last year…

Waves

Stylized drawing of waves by Meredith Eliassen.

Waves notecard