Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Frankenstein Fairy (or “An Art Class Essay Eleven Years Late”)

This is a drawing I did when I was eighteen. In hindsight, the scale and perspective looks distorted. That wasn’t deliberate, but it seems oddly compatible with the theme. The girl’s hands are too big for her body—also an accident—but that may be appropriate for a Frankenstein fairy.

In my late teens, I came up with the concept of Frankenstein fairies. They were sullen-looking adolescents with green skin and stitches running along their faces and limbs. They wore leather jackets, skull shirts, and combat boots. Their wings only materialized when they were threatened. When treated as pariahs, they’d sprout luminous butterfly wings and either attack or fly away to a better place.

Ms. Lee, one of my high school art teachers, was intrigued by the image and asked me to write a piece about it. It was a suggestion, not an assignment. I didn’t follow through at the time because I couldn’t think of anything to say about it. But now, eleven years later, I can.

At that time in my life, I was focused on merging apparent opposites. Drawing sunflowers growing out of ashtrays. Going to Burger King in a prom dress. And in the process, discovering a middle ground. Frankenstein Fairy fit this theme because of the obvious contrast, but also because the “monster” himself was a contradiction.

I first read Mary Shelley’s book in fifth grade and felt an immediate possessive pull toward the character. Not wanting to take credit for him, but wanting to adopt him as a person. I later felt the same about Alice Cooper’s “Teenage Frankenstein,” a glorious musical ode to alienation. The song was his, but it was also mine because I thought of Alice Cooper as my person. It was the babushka doll effect of egocentrism.

Now I feel that the song can be claimed by everybody who’s ever felt alone and pushed away. We can be together in solitude. And Frankenstein’s monster belongs to everybody. Even his body is a composite of different people. We all are. Our DNA comes from a multitude of sources. Our personalities and opinions, too. It’s a whole merging of experiences that influence us, and we are all patchwork.

In the end, Frankenstein’s creature belongs to everyone because he is everyone. And we are all Frankenstein fairies.