Altered Mid-20th Century Children's Books in Pedagogic Tableaux

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Stories of Innocence and Experience is an installation that loosely replicates a 1950's elementary school classroom. The twelve tableaux are stand-ins for learning and activity centers in an actual classroom. Each tableau contains one to five mid-century children's books that have been altered with the addition of contemporary content; It is the altered books that determine the thematic essence of each tableau.

     The books I chose reflect the general happy-go-lucky optimism of American culture after World War II. Because the children’s books of this time often were bland in terms of content, they provided an ideal foil for the juxtaposition of issue-oriented information. Just as the post-World War II period corresponded with my childhood (“Innocence”), so the 1960’s and 1970’s coincided with my coming of age (“Experience”) and offered a plethora of historic events to consider for possible inclusion. My altered children’s books offer a kind of mediation (“bridge”) between the many conflicting realities that characterize our increasingly polarized world; for example, abundance and scarcity, kindness and cruelty, generosity and self-interest.
     In choosing “the classroom” as the metaphor of this installation, it is unambiguously pedagogic. It suggests that we teach what we need to learn.

The tableaux

Click on the thumbnails below to see more photos and information about each tableau.