Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving, the Revised Standard Version

One of my favorite memories from kindergarten and first grade is of the day we spent cutting and coloring paper pilgrims and turkeys and Indians and log cabins for the classroom Thanksgiving mural. The resulting tableau was a mixture of scales and artistic abilities. It didn't matter if it was wrong in its details; this unevenness was what gave it its charm and energy.

Our modern picture of the historic holiday is similarly uneven, and almost entirely wrong. But we tend to love our traditions even––maybe especially––when they are mistaken. We wrap holidays in sentiment and it's hard to correct people's sentimental attachments. It's hard for some people to be reminded that the Pilgrims were incompetent at pioneering or that the founding fathers––Washington, Jefferson and that lot––were a bunch of agnostics and (worse) Unitarians.

I did this illustration for designer Patrick J B Flynn. The article was about the modern revisionist picture of Thanksgiving, so I used iconic toy figures as a starting point. Despite knowing better, I got the same nostalgic Thanksgiving thrill drawing them. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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