I See That Fable Differently

Ox and the Frog2
“The Ox and the Frog,” from The Fables of Aesop and Others Translated into Human Nature, 1857, designed and drawn on the wood by Charles H. Bennett, engraved by Swain, handcolored by the publisher (Hardbound. London: W. Kent & Co.), Carlson Fable Collection, Creighton University

OMAHA— Over the past 35 years, Creighton University’s Fr. Greg Carlson, S.J., has collected some 9,000 books, and thousands of objects, all presenting Aesopic fables, and all making their home at Creighton.

For Fr. Carlson, the diverse interpretations and representations of different storytellers and artists have made the stories more interesting than ever. From January 27 through April 29, Joslyn Art Museum hosts an exhibition of books and objects from the Carlson Fable Collection. On view in Joslyn’s Mind’s Eye Gallery, I See That Fable Differently is sponsored by Fran and Rich Juro and Cynthia Epstein and David Wiesman. Admission to the exhibition is included in free general Museum admission.

La Cigale_46 crop
“The Cicada and the Ant,” from Fables de La Fontaine, Tome I, 1867, Jean de La Fontaine avec les dessins de Gustave Doré (Hardbound. First edition. Paris: Hachette), Carlson Fable Collection, Creighton University.

In the fall of 2017, during a Creighton University Honors Program course entitled “Researching and Exhibiting Aesop,” Fr. Carlson, Associate Professor Erin Walcek Averett, and Jess Benjamin, Creighton’s Lied Art Gallery Director, guided a team of undergraduate students, who selected and researched more than forty objects, representing thirteen fables, which comprise this exhibition.

Books, prints, tableware, tiles, toys, cards, and even a dinner menu combine to suggest different ways of seeing what happens in each fable. At least two objects illustrate each fable. Joslyn’s The Grasshopper and the Ant, painted by Jean Georges Vibert and on view in the Kiewit Gallery, was the topic of a lecture Fr. Carlson delivered at the Museum in 2010, which sparked the development of this exhibition. Seven items in the show, from a newspaper cartoon to a fancy knife rest, question what happened between that grasshopper and ant.

 

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