Wordsworth and Werewolves
By allisondavis
Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

When 19th-century poets like William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge announced their longing for the lost innocence of childhood, they introduced a theme subsequent artists (literary, musical, and visual) have continued to explore: that deep sense of nostalgia for our younger years.


“Alexander” by Thomas M. Lowery

Perhaps Wordsworth would recognize his own desire for innocence and the untainted perception of youthful imagination in the work of the artists who call themselves The Deermilk Collective. The group of eleven artists opened a show called “The Werewolf Youth” at Washington, D.C.’s Warehouse Gallery on March 30th. Using characters created by D.C. artist Thomas M. Lowery, they explore variations on a theme implicit in much of Lowery’s work – the adult desire for and commodification of childhood.


Antler Girl” by Jym Davis

Jym Davis, one of Asthmatic Kitty’s own music video artists, participates in the show with paintings and a video installation. In the video, a woman who wears a cartoon mask of a Lowery character walks through the woods and soon discovers a discarded teddy bear. The pair continues to stroll innocently through the woods until their journey abruptly ends when they emerge onto a scene of devastation. The transition from innocence to experience invokes the viewer’s own childhood losses and mirrors the irrevocable journey from naivety to knowledge and suffering.

Paintings by Lowery and Davis, drawings by Tokyo artist Shibuya, as well as plush sculptures by Heidi Kenney and photographs by Lisa McCarty, all take on seemingly innocuous characters and ask the viewer to examine her own reaction to them. Are these just cartoons? Are they toys? Or, are these artworks the manifestations of a cultural psychology, one rooted in 19th-century poetry and philosophy, as they both embrace and ironize our eternal longing for lost innocence?

Plush Sculptures by Heidi Kenney

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