Passages

Much of my work revolves around the idea of narrative. While studying children's literature at the University of Ottawa, I decided to focus on the cultural impact of a well-known fairy tale: Little Red Riding Hood. With some help from Jack Zipes’ The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood and Catherine Orenstein’s Red Riding Hood Uncloaked, I followed its manifestations in literature and pop culture over the past 300 years. The result was a series of paintings presented as a fragmented frieze in my Trials and Tribulations exhibition. I was interested in opening up the story for my viewers, steering them away from a linear understanding of its themes.

Paintings

Installation, Studio, and Detail Shots

Artist Statement

Ask the next person you see to quickly tell you the story of Little Red Riding Hood. The narrative you are offered will almost certainly include a red hood, a wolf, a grandmother, and possibly other characters such as a mother and a woodsman. In all likelihood, however, the details of the story you receive will vary from one teller to another. The reason for this is that our knowledge of the tale is a composite made up from a number of sources. The basic details are usually a combination of the written versions of Charles Perreault (1697) and the Brothers Grimm (1812) – but we have been made aware of other ways of looking at the story thanks to recent films such as Hoodwinked (2005). Further study reveals that our red-cloacked heroine has undergone dozens of transformations over the past three centuries. Her familiar story has been used in animation, film, fiction, and advertisement to name only a few. The way the characters are represented – and more importantly, the way they end up – vastly differs depending on the version.

I am interested in this story for exactly this reason. I find it fascinating that one story could be used as the vehicle for so many ideologies, and analysed on so many levels. Its vivid visual features (the red hood, the snarling wolf’s features, the dark woods) and sonor patterns (“What big ____ you have, granny”) are effective in conveying strong impressions.

In imaging this story, I have chosen a consistant format for almost all the paintings. They all share the same height in order to create a frieze – a line of narrative. However, I also seek to break up the narration in order to reveal the fragmented nature of the story itself. Titles like Rotkäppchen (the German title for the story) and Bzou (an old French word for an evil spirit or a werewolf) reveal the story’s wide geographical origin and dissemination. In Heterodoxy, I bring these fragmented elements together in one scene. Chaos seems to have disrupted Little Red’s world. Wolves fight in the foreground, groups of woodsmen sit huddled around fires — and what has happened to Little Red(s) and granny, anyway? You tell me.