The Sisters Grimm

The Sisters Grimm

When a young child hears, “You are going to be the death of me,” they are threatened by the most trusted person in their world – their mother or father. But what does the child think? What ideas might enter the child’s mind when they are commanded to “Bite your tongue!” The Sisters Grimm poses an answer. This project combines oral history, visual art, and viewer participation.

Oral History & Idioms

Before I began the series, during exhibitions, I interviewed people for phrases they remember most. At the exhibitions, viewers sit in an old school desk and write what they remember. This oral history became the core of the series. The Sisters Grimm is a series of characters based on idioms I have collected. I spoke to young children over generations and different cultures. The series is based on, and titled with, common phrases every child has heard probably more than once, such as “You are going to be the death of me” and “Always wear clean underwear.”

I have collected many pages of such idioms, in four languages, from many different cultures. Sometimes unsolicited, I have received photos of people as children who want to be included in this project. A video made after the first five girls will be in artist stories on the Creative Pinellas website next week. 

The Kids are Us

Part sass, part satire, the Sisters Grimm skitters across the landscape of language to puncture innocence and dismantle the childhood scold’s sinister sensuality.

Themes/Titles include:
  • Always wear clean underwear
  • Hold your tongue
  • Don’t put it in your mouth
  • Don’t point that at your sister
  • Wipe that grin before it sticks forever
  • You are going to be the death of me
  • Step on a crack, break your mother’s back
  • Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face
The Art – a little Wicked

This series of drawings of young girls with large heads and diminishing bodies, puncture innocence and dismantle the rebukes from adults with a child’s inherent wisdom. Nevertheless, these statements continue to be perpetuated, but how are they interpreted? Out of sensual lines and somber colors, the girls gaze back at you with a stare you cannot avoid. They wink at us from across the divide of language, questioning, with humor and irony. Although the girls appear prim and proper, when they look back at you, it’s like stepping through a looking glass into a complex and humorous world – one that is certainly a little wicked.

See all the “Sisters Grimm” girls at my website.

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