OK, so my fairy tales will be fully integrated. I quickly realized that no, I cannot just swap out new heads on my completed characters. I need to gather up all new images. Remember how I said that there were many, many fairy tale illustrations? Not for non-European characters.
But what about all those multicultural children’s books I see at the library? Sure, the situation is improving. Out of the thousands of kids books, there’s a whole big shelf of Hispanic/African-American/Asian/Other. I spent a lot of time looking at them, sitting at the library, taking out each book and photographing any character I thought I might possibly use, then went back and did it again. But….look, here’s just a small sample of the traditional blonde Cinderellas that I was able to find online:
And here’s ALL that I get googling African-American Cinderella or Black Cinderella:
The real problem is that the Cinderella category is all white. You have to look in a (separate but equal?) category to find Black, Hispanic, Asian or any other people.
So…time for new tactics - create my own images. Googling “women/spinning/ Boliva/ Peru/ Guatamala/ etc” I found these images:
Put them all together and we have a new, South American Mother Goose:
My art has always combined collected elements. But now, instead of physical objects gathered at garage sales, I’m harvesting images online, and combining them digitally.
This book cover(below)
…easily morphed into this Snow White (below)
But forget about finding any diversity in dwarves! No matter how long I looked, or how many different ways I tried to morph black faces with dwarf clothing, it just looked wrong. So now we have Snow White and the Seven Jazz Musicians.
A Japanese Folk Tale provided the visuals for my Beauty and the Beast (below)
With my original Juniper Tree figures.
The Pied Piper stayed the same, but now he is leading a whole new group of children…
(Above) I’m trying to have children of different races, wearing culturally appropriate clothing (without it being just utter costume) illustrated in a style that (please, I hope) has some connection to that culture. The black girl flying in the blue dress is from Faith Ringgold’s book “Tar Beach”. The Aztec girl on the left is drawn in a style of the Aztec stone glyphs.
There are almost certainly going to be more changes. It keeps evolving. My understanding keeps growing. Decades ago, I was assigned to decorate the primary school stage for the Christmas production. My backdrop had a group of carolers, based on some card I’d seen. They were wearing top hats and long dresses. The faces were every shade from ivory to deep brown, and each had just 2 dots and a smile. I was told later that some of the teachers had complained that my design was racist. What! How? I could not figure out what I had done wrong, dressing them in those lovely English costumes. It’s so easy for an old white lady to be stupidly insensitive.
Meanwhile, I’m sewing Marginalia, stitching tiny little letters with the help of my magnifying lamp:
Yes, we keep going next week with still more fairy tales. Send me your thoughts (or complaints!) by clicking on my address: email@example.com