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“Wild, Wooly, & Wonderful” puppets at the Center for Puppetry Arts | Arts & Culture

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“Wild, Wooly, & Wonderful” puppets at the Center for Puppetry Arts
“Wild, Wooly, & Wonderful” puppets at the Center for Puppetry Arts

Center for Puppetry Arts® is pleased to announce its newest special exhibit: Wild, Wooly, & Wonderful opened in April. The wonders of nature have long inspired art, writing and performance. Puppeteers everywhere, from Africa to South America, use animals to tell stories about their cultures, traditions and everyday life. This exhibit showcases different ways animals are represented by artists and how those representations relate the artist’s cultural heritage and creative talent.

Featuring rarely seen museum artifacts from the Center’s collection, Wild, Wooly, & Wonderful showcases domestic and wild animals alike. For each animal represented in the exhibit, patrons are able to view examples from different cultures side by side as they marvel at the unique artistry, commonalities and differences. The new exhibit is the latest in the Center’s Passports Gallery, which focuses on cross-cultural and international puppet representations.

Wild, Wooly, & Wonderful was curated by Melissa McCarriagher, Center for Puppetry Arts Exhibitions Director. “This exhibit is charming and a great way to introduce people of all ages to puppetry through something that they are already familiar with – animals. It’s always interesting to see the way that animals are represented from one culture to the next. For example, American puppeteers usually have their animals walk and talk like you and me,” commented McCarriagher. She continued, “This is seen in Julie Taymor’s Broadway production of The Lion King. Other cultures such as the Sogo Bo puppeteers of Africa, allow their animals to behave and look like animals. While Taymor’s puppets behave quite differently than the Sogo Bo, it was actually their puppet artistry that inspired her designs.”

Wild, Wooly, & Wonderful features puppets of cats, dogs, horses, birds and more. Some, such as a prototype mask of Scar from Disney’s The Lion King, offer a glimpse into the creative process of very popular, modern productions; while others, such as tiger puppets used in many other cultures, allow patrons to become acquainted with puppetry’s diverse roles in the world and how one perception might differ from our own.  

McCarriagher explains, “In Chinese culture, the tiger is considered to be the king of all beasts – not the lion. For this reason the tiger appears in classic Chinese stories that are often performed through glove puppetry. The tiger is also revered in Indian culture, and is often related to the Goddess Durga who rides on a tiger’s back.  People around the world are mesmerized by “big cats,” so this exhibit is a great opportunity to get nose to nose with them without any fear of being bitten.”

Now open, Wild, Wooly, & Wonderful remains on view in the Center for Puppetry Arts Passports gallery through the 2013-14 Season. To make the most of a visit, patrons are encouraged to add a tour to their experience.  While at the Center, patrons may also enjoy a performance, such as the Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat (through June 13 to July 28, 2013), or attend a Create-A-Puppet Workshop or a film. For more details and full event and activity listings, please visit www.puppet.org