by Cory Godbey

“The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords.  

In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveller who would report them.  

And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should be shut and the keys be lost.”

J. R. R. Tolkien. On Fairy-Stories.

If you find yourself in the Seattle area anytime soon you would do well to investigate the most recent Faerie show curated by the wonderful Tara Larsen Chang.

Long time Muddy Colors readers are sure to know Tara from her outstanding TLCWorkshop series featuring world-class instructors such as Virginie Ropars, Greg Manchess, and Omar Rayyan (to name just a few).

This past weekend the Faerie III show opened and you can now view the collection online as well as read Tara’s entire curator statement here

Recently I had the opportunity to ask Tara a few questions about the show and her involvement curating this new exhibition.

Sprite and Frog. Karla Ortiz.

Hi Tara! Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to talk with us about the Faerie III show. In addition to your many workshops, illustration projects (and gardening!) what led you to add curator to your resume?

It was an organic rather than a planned thing. As you can probably tell, I love art, and artists. I met Julie Baroh (the owner/facilitator of Krab Jab Studio) via TLCWorkshops, and admired her and all the things she was doing at Krab Jab (You can read about our meeting here). I especially appreciated that she was featuring fantasy and publication art in her gallery. When she originally decided to host an upscale faery art show in 2013, we discussed our dream roster of current faerie artists and I volunteered to contact the half of the list of artists that I knew personally – unofficially co-curating this go-round. The show was gorgeous, and successful, so last year, she asked me to take on curating the show on my own. Given, as I’ve mentioned, that I love art and artists – as well as beautiful events – we’ve decided to make it an annual thing.

Forest Goblin. Paul Bonner.

How did you originally settle on the theme of the show?
The theme really is The Realm of Faerie (as opposed to sweet, twinkly fairies) which encompasses a wide spectrum of trans-cultural phenomenon and speaks to our deeper psyches. “Faerie” is such a rich, mythical combination of nature, allegory and imagery, you can sometimes find the lines between reality and fantasy starting to blur. I find it a remarkable source of creative inspiration.

Faun of Ptelea. Justin Gerard.

Each year you have assembled a wonderful, diverse collection. What is your criteria for choosing artists?
First of all, they need to create evocative imagery – art that is more than technically beautiful, but touches emotional chords within the viewer, and has a clear sense of inner vision and voice. Within the broad criteria of Faerie, there is room for very diverse visions and voices, so I also try to include a variety of visual approaches and mediums, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional. It is also a delight to be able to include artists from all over the world. This year we have pieces coming from all over the US and as far away as Denmark and New Zealand.

Beetle Battle. Omar Rayyan.

This is the third Faerie collection that you have curated. How has the show or theme evolved over the last couple years?

We want to try something a little different each year – whether it’s a specific aspect of the  theme or changing up the artist roster. This year, I asked folks who are known for their fae-friendly imagery, as we have the past two shows, to participate, but also invited a number of incredible artists who have never even dabbled on the fringes of Faerie. I wanted to see what their vision of the Realm would look like. (In case you’re wondering, it looks amazing.)

Karya. Annie Stegg-Gerard.

What advice would you give to emerging artists looking to enter the gallery world?

Just as in any market, look for the places -in this case, galleries- that carry the kind of art you make. Familiarize yourself with what they do and see if they have a submission process. You’ll expecially want to make sure that your artistic proficiency matches the quality that that particular gallery exhibits. I know for myself, I look for artists rather than waiting for them to come to me – so an active online presence (website, Facebook, online portfolio, etc…) is really helpful. As is submitting really good work if you are asked or accepted into a show. Nothing will turn off a curator more quickly than sending in something that was clearly hastily done, and beneath your normal quality level, or some old piece that you just pulled out of your closet.

Little Blighter. Brian Froud.

And finally, favorite mythological or fantastical creature to paint?

Oh, probably the one I don’t know *how* to paint yet. A lot of my personal art is about self-discovery, and with denizens of the fae, it’s discovering how I can visually depict something that is elemental and archetypal and in some ways unknowable. It’s very gratifying when this enigmatic….thing… can be wrangled onto paper in some tangible form. It’s a muse I can return to again and again and discover more about myself in the process. 

Elder. Cory Godbey.
The Faerie III show is up through April 4th!