Through the Looking Glass

Through the Looking Glass

By Siegrid Raible

During the summer of 2015 two prominent New York City museums hosted exhibitions dealing with the fantastic or magical. The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted “China: Through the Looking Glass” which closed on September 7th. The Morgan exhibition “Alice 150 Years of Wonderland” will be on view until October 11th.

The beautifully curated show at the Met mixed ancient Chinese art with various modern couture designers’ take on fashion from Chinese court costumes to Mao’s every-day utilitarianism to today’s fantastic inspirations.  The Morgan exhibit celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by bringing many original drawings and letters by Lewis Carroll, the author, and John Tenniel, the illustrator, together with rare editions and vintage photographs relating to this classic enchanting tale.

The two exhibits transport the viewer to fantastic and wonder-filled worlds. To read today’s newspapers is to enter into the Fifteenth/Sixteenth century looking-glass world of Hironimus Bosch, the artist of The Garden of Earthly Delight where hell is depicted as persons suffering all manner of imagined eternal damnation.  For those fleeing the myriad conflict regions in today’s world, hell is a twenty-four hour, seven-day version of Bosch’s painting or worse.

I am able to view all these worlds from a distance and walk away from both the wonder and the madness. The 60 million refugees who find themselves homeless in various parts of Europe, the Middle East and Central and North Africa cannot. We must press our leaders to address the refugees’ needs as well as the causes which gave rise to their exodus.

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