2020-2021 Wonderland

Lost in Wonder

Chinazaekpere Okafor

Artist Statement

I became interested in submitting an entry for The Wonderland Award,because I’ve always had an attachment to the fantastical nature of Alice In Wonderland since I read the story as a kid. I remember someone bought me a massive Alice In Wonderland popup book as a Christmas gift,and it showed all the magical land crazy situations Alice encountered. Every moment had its own life;incidents that were jaw-dropping, joyful, scary, sad, and outrageous. And every time I read it I would feel every emotion all over again, even those I had not yet understood. As an artist,dancer, and choreographer, it makes me curious to know how far I could go with those emotions. What I could create from all those feelings that excited me enough to keep reading over and over again.Lewis Carroll’s whole body of work is tangled with thoughts concerning the merging of daydreams and reality, that nonsense creations of the imagination can alter the way we view reality. In every aspect of his life, Lewis Carroll used his imagination to become creative in his learning. Even though he had an awkward stammer and wasn’t the most naturally sociable individual, he was able to connect with children with his storytelling. He saw children and their raw connections with their imaginations as powerful and viewed them and the stories he heard from them with high regard. Having grown up with his stories of Wonderland, and the fantastical mysteries of the mind he’d focus on, I hold his work as a piece of my youth that grounds me in my creative work as an adulthood.His ability to reveal and create beauty in madness/chaos made me in awe of his mind. He took the same absurd and random thinking he used to entertain his siblings in his youth to foster the creative minds of adolescents worldwide.That absurdity and those silly incoherent phrases showed that logic didn’t necessary mean sanity or correctness.What we think of as logic may just be out own interpretation of how reality should run.And in the same way there are parts of reality we can’t understand perfectly as ‘fact,’there are also parts of our imaginations that we conjure up that are without ‘reason’ which makes them even more powerful.

Looking though the G. Edward Cassady, M.D., and Margaret Elizabeth Cassady, R.N., Lewis Carroll Collection, I decided to make a piece that felt like a collection itself. I decided on creating a compilation of different emotions within parts of a piece since a lot of the work I had seen had a level of abstraction (especially the Carroll’s poems) that I was drawn to.In my performance piece, I wanted to pull from Carroll’s absurd, jittery imagery of rhyme and rhythm and create something that portrayed that chaos of the mind reflecting into life. I want to show the bliss in the madness as well as the darkness that come with it, just like everything in the world. Considering everything that’s occurred in these times, both generally and personally,I was inspired to tell a story of loss and hope. And how the wonder of imagination can become an escape to the exhaustive moments of reality as well as make us appreciate reality more

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