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Art Show: Into the Woods: Little Red Riding Hood as Altered Book

Into the Woods - The Light Beyond

by Melissa Wotherspoon

Banner for Into the Woods: Little Red Riding Hood as Altered Book art show

Art: Into the Woods - The Light Beyond by Artist Melissa Wotherspoon
In poring over "Little Red Cap" variations, I was attracted to the darker versions and symbology, from Little Red's cape representing sexual maturity, to the wolf as sexual predator.

I found the predator symbolism to be too harsh, so in my version, I have removed the black and white moralistic aspects and fear tactics of the story and opted for a nebulous, "psychological grey", from the perspectives of both Red and the Wolf.

The story begins as usual, with Little Red heading off with basket in hand to her Grandmother's cottage. She meets the wolf en route, who reaches Granny's cottage in advance of her arrival. The wolf swallows Granny whole, then Red arrives on the scene, whereupon she is gently seduced into "adulthood" by the wolf (From the bed detail image, below: "I would like you to tell me just what you think of me", ..."I will try to tell you in as few words as possible"). She is psychologically conflicted: the wolf or my family?

A passing huntsman notices Granny's door unlocked and decides to investigate. Red and the wolf put on an act, for they both know that the huntsman's knife is the key in removing the encumbering grandmother from the wolf's stomach.

The huntsman removes Granny and asks Red if she can manage (Granny is still unconscious), and Red asserts that she will be fine by herself. When the huntsman leaves, she quickly sews up the wolf's stomach, and nurses him, rather than her oxygen-starved grandmother back to health.

The two escape to the darkest, deepest part of the woods, but ironically, Red has "come through to the light".

The book I chose to alter was conveniently called "The Light Beyond" (from which came the idea for the cover design), a drama from 1928, set during the Great War. Most of the text of my story comes from sentence fragments from the novel. Each page takes a different approach - in some cases I have chosen to do a collage, in other cases I have opted for colour effects and minimal text to set a mood. In any case, it was difficult to photograph. I now realize that an altered book is definitely something that needs to be experienced, not just viewed.

Thanks to Elizabeth Badurina for inspiring me to complete this piece. It was so much fun, and it broke my artistic dry spell!

Melissa


Detail Images


Detail Image for art Into the Woods - The Light Beyond

Cover detail - beads on twigs

Detail Image for art Into the Woods - The Light Beyond

Full spread - Granny's Cottage

Detail Image for art Into the Woods - The Light Beyond

Detail of Granny's Bedroom - the bed

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