2020-2021 Wonderland

The Renaissance

Emma Sykes

Artist Statement

Lewis Carroll opened up the world and created works that are larger than life. I am competing for the Wonderland Award because I hope to uncover possibilities and break through limitations in a similar way, while increasing the representation of black women in the media.I’ve always related to Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, because growing up as a young black girl I often found myself spiraling into a rabbit hole of imagination and whimsy to separate myself from the world and its prejudices,and to protect my innocence and the purity of who I am regardless of my race. This inspired me to write this piece because my main character,Petra, also embarks upon a journey where she must discover and create the world for herself. As the daughter of Medusa, she is half god, half woman,and half curse, and neither one nor the other but riding the line between all three. This liminality is similar to that faced by Alice throughout her time in Wonderland, and the decisions she makes to transform as a character. I was inspired by the G. Edward Cassady, M.D., and Margaret Elizabeth Cassady, R.N.Lewis Carroll Collection which had many resources that demonstrated the hybridity of Carroll's work being the perfect alchemy of fiction and reality,because fiction can never be so fake. This inspired me when crafting the atmosphere of my script,which is a heavy mix of art history and a recreation of the Renaissance with a more modern social drive, as well as a mythology come to life in a fantastical whimsical sense. I also played with this collaboration of fiction and reality by inserting Petra into a white patriarchal hegemony throughout time, forcing the audience to accept her blackness and become extremely visible. I wanted this idea of a woman taking agency of her life and trying to recreate it to be a heavy theme.I think it’s interesting because Petra is trying to grow up and create her own life, but when you're a woman who’s already been defined by society much of your agency has already been taken away without even realizing it. Carroll also filled his stories with vibrant characters who emanated larger themes and mysteries that contributed to the work and its statement as a whole.I was inspired to do the same as Medusa has always been a misunderstood villain throughout history, and for her daughter to seek revenge for generations of trauma I thought it would be powerful.The snakes for hair and the society who has created her as a monster are representative of the West's fears of the black woman. I wanted to create a narrative inspired by Carroll but catered to the young black girl going through similar things as Alice and having to face the world head on, and with a little creativity and imagination.

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