Tuesday, June 07, 2011

artwork spotlight | doubt, a parable

We're back with the fifth installation in our series on Emily Cooper's artwork for our 2011-2012 season!  The second-to-last show of our season is DOUBT, A PARABLE, another gem of a play by John Patrick Shanley.

The whole point of DOUBT, A PARABLE is that it's supposed to keep you in doubt (it's as if these playwrights are intentional with their titles, isn't it?). The story tells of Sister Aloysius, a strict nun who suspects Father Flynn, an unconventional priest, of a terrible crime. She relentlessly pursues him and he relentlessly defends himself, both of them pulling Sister James, the young, pure-hearted nun, back and forth between their arguments.

As for the artwork:

The owl represents Sister Aloysius. Watchful, elderly, perhaps wise, but also a rather deadly huntress.

Just like we are easily biased to believe a negative allegation against someone (usually for fear of what it could mean if it's true), we are biased to think of the vulture as a scavenger hunting for weak prey. However, vultures are also resourceful, community-oriented animals that provide a valuable service to hot regions. The vulture represents Father Flynn.

The two birds are meant to appear as unbiased as possible: both the same size, black and white, both birds that can be seen in two different lights.

In the top right corner, another bird is flying out of frame. This one is young and brightly coloured, representing Sister James, who just wants the world to be a beautiful, safe place for everyone.

The torn paper on the bottom came about because Emily wanted to have something torn in the image, since the whole play is about being torn between ideas. Paper works well, and she works with paper a lot (have you checked out her other artwork yet?) already, so it made sense.

Like many others, we had a few different versions of this image. The final is almost exactly where we started out, the first image just missing Sister James in the corner. There was a radically different version along the way though:

Pretty cool, right? More colour, the dangerously shifting cross, the owl looks a little more sinister... But in the end we just loved the original idea too much and back we went!

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