The Mad Hatter

My body of work is a series of portraits of personal acquaintances that tell stories of aspects of their lives through the eyes of characters from children’s literature. By using familiar characters, of which derive from several of my favourite stories, they invite viewers to immediately learn something about each person I have chosen to represent these characters.

My friend, JJ Pearson, who I have drawn as one of my favourite fictional characters, the Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

I met JJ during my first semester of dual enrollment at North Greenville University in German class. He was a theatre major and one of the first people to talk to me and show me some magic tricks with playing cards. Already he became a fascinating character in and of himself. But setting aside his talents of theatricals and magical shenanigans, probably the most outstanding thing about JJ was the way he dressed. One could spot him all the way across campus and recognize him by his top hat, brightly coloured blazers, and highly patterned mesmerizing slacks. His mysterious but lively spirit reflected that of the Mad Hatter nearly every day. When I took the photographs of my models, I told them what my visions were for the pictures and talked to them about the characters I chose for them. I then let them come up with their own poses in order to have them better embody that character from their point of view. When I told JJ to pretend he was talking to Alice, I captured a moment which reminded me of him explaining a game at an improv show he would do. I had him wear his purple coat as the colour purple represents mystery, magic, and creativity. The background was added in later to give the whole picture a sense of dreamlike reality and incorporate the whimsical quality found all throughout Lewis Carroll’s book.

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