Friday, April 27, 2007

Discrepancy in the Origins of 'Bambi'

As I mentioned the other day in class, there is a Native American art exhibit at the Johnson (hopefully some of you looked at it today) and one of the painters is supposed to have inspired the idea of 'Bambi' in Walt Disney. The artist is Pop Chalee and the painting is Enchanted Forest 1983. I think it's interesting that the roots of this 'fairy tale' originate in Native American culture. Here's what the blurb on the Johnson pamphlet states...

"Given the widespread popularity of Walt Disney productions, it is not surprising that Taos Pueblo artist Pop Chalee's work has been dismissively labeled as 'Bambi art,' or imitative of the stylized, wide-eyed animals popularized by the Walt Disney Studio. HOWEVER, Pop Chalee first began painting forest images in 1936; the Disney studio did not begin sketches for bambi until 1937, and the film was not released until 1941. In fact, the artist commented, 'Bambi was born here-Walt Disney bought one of these paintings of the forest scenes, and he made Bambi out of one of the deer.' Although Pop Chalee's style has been fully appropriated into American popular culture, reexamining the artist's original goal-to foster an understanding of her people through art-helps us to appreciate Pop Chalee's paintings as particular cultural expressions of a deep respect for the natural landscape of the Taos Pueblo. Her eerie and imaginative woodland scenes are truly powerful visual images in their own right." Hannah Steinberg

I looked up a couple resources to check out if you are a skeptic or just want to learn more about this topic.

John Villani. Southwest Art. Houston: Aug 2001. Vol. 31, Iss. 3; pg. 222, 4pgs
Cesa, Margaret. The world of Flower Blue: Pop Chalee: an artistic biography. 1997. Sante Fe: Red Crane Books. call # E99. T52 P663 1997 + Olin Library

Ironic, an older white man gets credit for the initial composition of a Native American woman's artistic ideas. This society never ceases to make me laugh at it's obsurdity.


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