Saturday, April 12, 2008

Harper Lee in mixed media

By the 9th grade, most have read Harper Lee's seminal, and only, novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Alongside of the horrors of the holocaust, genocides in Africa, and the bombing of Horshima, children are shown the horrors that the world is capable at an early age. On a more micro level, To Kill a Mockingbird is able to destroy that youthful innocence taught to us through Disney movies and the like through more subversive means. I know when I first read the moralistic tale at around age 8 I was infuriated by the injustice of the book. Of course, this naivete would disipate with age, but the book certainly remained a salient point in my formative years.

Red Weldon Sandlin and Mark Sandlin's I Still Hear the Mockingbird that opened at Whitespace last night illustrated the poignancy of the novel in their lives as well. The show consisted of pieces they created using pages from the book, drawings, sculptures and paintings to pay hommage to some of the more arresting passages from the novel. Although at times pieces seemed too literal, others made insightful studies into the characters' personas. In a style reminiscent of Kojo Griffin's beastial-headed children commiting wrongful acts, the Sandlin's illsutrated the characters according to the fabled characteristics they represented. The depiciton of Scout and Dill with the head of sheep was certainly not a stretch, but in the context of the show, provided a reminder of the viewers personal tendencies as well.

The strength of the show is not the depiction of various scenes from the novel, but the connection of the viewer to the text, and the elements of the text that are perhaps too much of a reminder of why the story is still an important one.

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