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Paper Moon focused on work that, in one way or another, served as a substitute for the real thing. The emphasis of this exchange was not on artifice but rather on a sincere effort to imitate an ideal, the desire for which may be motivated by limited circumstances, need, adoration, and longing, rather than greed or irony. The show examined how these substitutes were intended to function, the nature of their appeal, and what role authenticity and our ability to “make believe” played in the proffered illusion.
The idea for this exhibition began with a documentary about teenage magicians and evolved into a project in which the sleight of hand and trickery behind the illusion is made evident, but the willingness to be entertained remains. The title, Paper Moon, was borrowed from a Depression-era song, “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” written by Harold Arlen and made popular by versions released by Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole during the later years of World War II. It referred to a paper maché world of theater sets, homemade high school dance props, and parade floats—inexpensive backdrops that provide a bit of temporary glamour or romance.
Exhibition Dates: August 30 - December 6, 2012
Location: Don Russell Clayton Gallery and The Art Gallery, Sturgis Library
Image: Adam Parker Smith. This Side of Paradise (I Lost All My Money in the Great Depression and All I Got Was This Room) (detail), 2012. Mixed media wall treatment. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Adam Parker Smith.
Reeves, Teresa Bramlette; Tepper, Kirstie; and Stephenson, Jessica, "Paper Moon" (2013). Zuckerman Museum Exhibition Publications. 2.