Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Illustration & Visual Culture
My thesis project, The Mountain Fog, is a children’s picture book pitch that tells a light-hearted story of two dogs who must face an environmental disaster. In this accompanying critical essay, I break down the process of crafting a fictional relationship between author-illustrator, animal characters, and the environment. It begins through the context of J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories,” which identifies seeing the world through two lenses - the Primary world and the Secondary world. From these terms, I navigate the idea of a fictitious ecology, an encapsulated anthropomorphic world governed by the creator’s personal experience with nature. This essay seeks to understand how the Primary and Secondary world inform W.H Auden’s idea of the “historian” and “poet,” using the evolution of scientific illustration and children’s picture books as examples. It then describes how the visual language and concepts of anthropomorphic characters “animates” a story and gives life to otherwise unrealistic places and characters. The intended audience for The Mountain Fog book is young elementary schoolers and the essay reveals how these elements come together to craft a method of thinking for young readers. It points out how children’s picture books and reimagined environments are evolving to allow appreciation of nature and society through visual means.
Zuckerman, Paulina, "Fictitious Ecology" (2022). MFA in Illustration & Visual Culture. 7.