2020-2021 Wonderland

Wish Way the Jabberwocky Went

Jacob Colao

Artist Statement

The Ballad of Cheviot Chase, an english oral tradition of the 15th century, and The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll, both heavily inspired me while making Wish Way the Jabberwocky Went. Neither of which I would have found without the Cassady collection. The Chevy Ballad tells the tale of an English Earl who hunts in Scottish territory, against King Douglas’s decree, who takes the act as one of invasion. Similarly, Earth was invaded in 2020 when I wrote this piece. However instead of hunting a snark, this time a Jabberwocky is hunting prey through the claws of coronavirus. I wanted to create a ballad that in the same sense a war ballad could be sung out; this too could be read in remembrance of the cooperation, destruction and feelings Coronavirus has caused especially Americans. What better way to do this than with Carroll’s creativity, knowledge, and unique love of the English language as seen in The Hunting of the Snark.

The Cassady Collection is the most inspiring work I’ve yet to find at USC. The dedication to find not just the first editions, but also foreign objects astounded me. It gave me a perspective on form and shape through literature I would have never otherwise encountered and been able to understand so thoughtfully. From blood dripping manga, film engravings, to Dodgeson’s math linguist puzzles, learning how each object connected to intent, and the audience gave me the idea to make something so simple it could be found floating in the wind down a street. Able to be easily grabbed by anyone. Yet what they read may fuzzily confuse them, just as the puzzles of Dodgeson’s brain did to me, until my word map somehow floats into their hands as well. I love the feel of the old publications from the early 20th century and wanted my piece to reflect how long these battles of iron and apparition have been going on. I wanted the look of war flyers dropped almost a century ago meeting medieval script.

I have never been one to agree to rules of grammar or an english language. Inventing new words was always natural to me and like Lewis Caroll, I knew if it sounded right, it probably was. I envy his knowledge of the rules however. I wanted Wish Way to flow like the prose of Lewis Carroll. I did my best to create a beat that lurches and smooths with what’s happening in the story. It was a feeling I had at the beginning of coronavirus that made me do it. That feeling evolved over isolation and allowed me to illustrate the page as well. I knew that it was going to be okay, but that we were definitely going to lose people and at times hope. I can only hope and pray now that with continued isolation and the distribution of vaccines this Jabberwocky too shall vanish.


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