Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are + Viewing and Making Monster Art = Kids Off The Couch

Spike Jonze's adaptation of Maurice Sendak's childhood tale about Max, a boy who misbehaves and is sent to bed without dinner, is the type of marketing monster that is impossible to ignore. Where The Wild Things Are (in theaters) has sparked a widespread cultural celebration of the book's classic exploration of fear, imagination and childhood innocence and critics have responded to it with accolades. The deep psychological underpinning of the book is what interests the filmmakers and while Max has fun on his wild rumpus, he comes home with a sad maturity that a young audience might not know how to handle. As adults, we were compelled by the film's lyrical beauty and sophisticated message and asked the kids why they thought Sendak's book (its ten sentences and unforgettable illustrations) has had such a lasting impact on our collective imagination - what about that story touches us? Charles Burchfield's "Heat Waves in a Swamp" is currently on display in Los Angeles' Hammer Museum, and the artist's exotic vision of nature reminds us of the expansive terrain of Sendak's fictional beasts. Both artists connect our inner turmoil to the untamed physical world, exploring the themes of wildness and our imagination in similar ways. We found online galleries replete with contemporary artists' renditions of Max and the Wild Things and before we knew it, the kids were putting together materials from the art cabinets and making masks of their own. Wildness, in our minds and in nature, is in all of us. Click here for links to the Sendak-inspired galleries and for more on our Red Flags about the movie.