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Cinderella: Masks, Magic and Mirrors
September 2, 2007 - March 31, 2008
Working with materials from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, this exhibit explores such key themes as servitude, disguise, false worth (the vain stepsisters), and real worth (at first recognized only by the fairy godmother), as well as such familiar and celebrated Cinderella motifs as pumpkins, shoes, jewelry, and beautiful clothing. Co-curators Virginia Catherall, Megan Hallett, and Audrey Thompson focus on "Masks, Magic, and Mirrors" to highlight questions of self-knowledge and self-deception (mirrors), unreliable knowledge of others (masks), and the wisdom (magic) needed to appreciate real worth.

One of the oldest of recorded folk tales, the Cinderella story has roots in both China and Egypt. Among the hundreds of variants of the Cinderella story, most feature a well-born, worthy, but mistreated young woman (or, less often, a young man), tormentors (usually, but not always, family members), a magical protector (sometimes a fairy godmother, sometimes a cow, fish, or snake), and a distinctive artifact by which the Cinderella figure is recognized, such as a slipper, an anklet, or a bracelet.

In other Cinderella stories, however, there is no shoe or identifying possession. In some, there is no fairy godmother or no magic. In some, Cinderella must perform an impossible task or pass a moral test. What all the stories have in common is that, initially, Cinderella's true worth is masked and she becomes known for who she is only when her humble disguise is removed.

The exhibit opens September 1 and runs through March 31 in the UMFA's Emma Eccles Jones Education Gallery. In conjunction with this exhibit and with the Utah Symphony and Opera's production of La Cenerentola, the UMFA will offer a self-guided tour of works throughout the Museum's collection that speak to Cinderella themes.

Updated: August 28, 2002 Webmaster: Charlton Miller
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