The Luna Lovegood Fashion Show, Pt. 2

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is my favorite episode of the series. Although many would disagree, those like me with a certain sensitivity appreciate the subtler elements: character pathos and development, humor in the face of a dark and foreboding backdrop and expressions of poignant humanity when least expected.

Draco Malfoy is revealed to us as a sympathetic character who is painted into a corner by the wishes of the Dark Lord and wrestling with the impulses of his humanity. Never buying into the notion of a patently evil or heroic character, I always had the notion that Draco might someday have the courage to defy his father and save Harry’s life at some cathartic juncture.

There is the hint of Severus Snape’s past, where he created new and deadly magic and then had a change of heart, later devising the counter curses for those same spells. He is also a tortured and deeply misunderstood character and, for those who did not pick up the clues throughout the series, unequivocally manifests his humanity in the final episode.

Harry takes things in stride with humor and lets the tide of events carry him away so that he can be in a position to serve the story when most needed: namely in helping Professor Slughorn find his own courage in revealing an embarrassing but critical piece of evidence.

All this is accompanied by Nicholas Hooper’s stirring music that puts the audience in the proper emotional place to appreciate the turn of events.

Luna Lovegood is at her most charming in this episode, and I could not help feeling that Evanna Lynch was having the time of her life. I commend the efforts of costume designer Jany Temime in pulling this off. Yes, the point was partly to show the oddness of the character, but there is also an other-worldly beauty in her selection of attire.

Here she is passing out copies of The Quibbler, a kind of tabloid that, despite conventional wisdom, probably has more insights about the world than the establishment would have us believe.

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (1)

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (1)

Luna always seems to have charms and devices that perform unconventional but useful functions. I will say more about the nature of the Lovegoods’ countercultural magic in Part 3. Here she uses these special glasses to discover and save the imperiled Harry trapped under a Cloak of Invisibility.

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (2)

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (2)

Here Luna repairs Harry’s nose, and he has learned to be good-spirited about such things and lets her give it a try. She has repaired many toes before and both are small appendages and rhyme after all.

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (3)

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (3)

This costume made me fall in love with Luna. We see her wearing this costume at the Quidditch match ostensibly as a kind of mascot, but I feel Luna would have worn it anyway.

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (4)

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (4)

This shot comes right after Harry’s quote that he should ask someone to the party, someone cool. How prophetic those words are, and though Harry respects and appreciates his friendship with Luna, I do count him a fool for not fully recognizing what a treasure she was.

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (5)

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (5)

This touching scene of wizards and witches raising their wands in solidarity demonstrates how people of good nature can only be pushed so far before they draw a line in the sand and say, “This far and no more.”

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (6)

J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & David Yates – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (6)

Part 3 will focus on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the nature of magic in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.

Paint in Motion: Autumn Miller

I would like to thank Ami for informing us of a rising star in dance who deserves attention on Pigtails. As neither Pip nor I are knowledgeable about dance, we asked Ami to put together the research and images for this post.

There are a lot of little girls who can be seen dancing on YouTube and every one is like a beneficent gift. But whatever charms they may have, most are a bit clumsy and awkward; it takes time to develop the skill and discipline to be an effective dancer. Every once in awhile a prodigy comes along, and at the tender age of 11, the moves of Autumn Miller have been called star magic.

The video that inspired me to feature her on this site is “I Was Here” where she performs a moving dance routine using paint as a prop and white mats and a body suit as canvas.

Autumn, Krista & Cory Miller - I was Here (April 20, 2012) (1)

Autumn, Krista & Cory Miller – I was Here (April 20, 2012) (1)

Known as Autie to her friends, she has become something of a phenomenon, with tens of thousands of followers on ‬YouTube,‭ Facebook,‭ Twitter,‭ Instagram and a conglomerate of Autie fan sites affectionately known as “Autie’s Army.”‬

Girls’ dance has become mainstream since the appearance of Dance Moms on ‬Lifetime Television Network featuring starlets like Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler and Chloe Lukasiak.‭ Some episodes featured skin tone outfits and performances inspired by Julia Roberts’‭ ‬Pretty Woman, creating a stir.‭ ‬Rumored to have been invited to star in ‬Dance Moms,‭ ‬her show-biz savvy mother Krista apparently declined the offer;‭ ‬nonetheless,‭ ‬it was into this milieu that Autie first appeared in the media during the “‬Single Ladies”‭ ‬scandal,‭ ‬when a very well-rehearsed and energetic ‬girl’s dance routine performed to Beyoncé’s hit song caught the attention of major news outlets including ‬Good Morning America. Host George Stephanopoulos interviewed some of the girls’ ‬parents asking if the performance was too sexy for little girls.‭ Autie’s father Cory—no stranger to the spotlight as a former pro-skater—defended the ‬World of Dance/Dance Precision ‬performance, arguing that it was the media who were sexualizing the little girls by taking the dance out of context and focusing in on small parts.‭ Autie herself remarked,‭ “‬Not really sure why we got so much attention but it was fun.” Even before I had heard of Autie, this performance was brought to my attention by some teenage girls who were impressed by the performance.

Good Morning America clip (December 1, 2010)

Good Morning America clip (December 1, 2010)

The little dirty blonde may not have stood out at the time from the “Single Ladies” ‬troupe as a whole, ‬and it was more than a year later before she reemerged in the media on ‬YouTube with a dance channel called Autie’s Freestyle Friday (‬AFF‭) ‬and on her mother’s channel, KBM Talent teaching ‬Trick Tip Thursdays.  Here we see an example called “Front Attitude Turns.”

Autumn, Krista & Cory Miller - Front Attitude Turns (December 20, 2012)

Autumn, Krista & Cory Miller – Front Attitude Turns (December 20, 2012)

AFFs often take place at the Millers’ home in Brea, California ‬in the third-floor loft studio.‭ ‬The productions are a family affair;‭ Autie’s dad is credited with much of the sharp videographic work,‭ ‬her toddler actor brother Harbor makes guest appearances ‬and Autie’s mother Krista also deserves special mention.  Here mother and daughter appear in one of their duets.

Autumn, Krista & Cory Miller - Autumn Miller and Mother Krista Miller Duet (December 24, 2011)

Autumn, Krista & Cory Miller – Autumn Miller and Mother Krista Miller Duet (December 24, 2011)

Krista Buonauro-Miller operates KBM Talent,‭ ‬a small dance company she started to work in her home with young people she really loves. ‭ ‬A former ballet dancer and LA Lakers cheerleader,‭ ‬Krista danced with Jim Carrey in ‬The Mask,‭ ‬in Saved By the Bell, Jackass 2‭ ‬and for performers Prince,‭ ‬Elvis Costello ‬and The Pussycat Dolls. Her sincere manner and technical knowledge have helped bring the weekly Trick Tip Thursdays co-hosted by Autie thousands of subscribers.

Autie cites Jesus as her inspiration ‬and when asked once why she dances,‭ ‬she replied,‭ “‬God gave me the heart to dance.‭” She names Shannon Mather as another of her inspirations;‭ ‬Shannon is owner of MDC,‭ ‬co-owner of Coastal Dance Rage ‬and Autie’s main coach.‭ ‬Autie also frequently appears in duets ‭and has performed with ‬choreographer Todd Flanagan,‭ ‬dancer Chaz Buzan‭ ‬and ex-Lakers cheerleader DeeDee Williams.

Autie’s infectious glee and super-fast tight moves garnered an almost immediate following.‭ ‬Some of her uploads have had more than one million views.‭ ‬Inspired by both ballet and it’s rebel antipode, modern dance—perhaps inspired by Isadora Duncan—Autie’s AFFs tend to be solos ‬featuring falls, contraction & ‬release, collapse and other classical techniques. More modern ideas like Dance Parkour, Tilts, Front Attitude Turns ‬and Stag Leaps are also incorporated.

‭Her “‬Off with Your Head” AFF illustrates this dichotomy when at first she appears in classical ballet costume and then breaks that up by appearing barefoot in tight glittery gold pants,‭ ‬leaping and whirling,‭ ‬hair a muss from a huge fan ‬and displaying her signature facial expressions.

Autumn, Krista & Cory Miller - Autumn Miller [Off with your Head] (April 28, 2012)

Autumn, Krista & Cory Miller – Autumn Miller [Off with your Head] (April 28, 2012)

Autie has described her style as‭ “fierce.”‬ ‬For example, she plays a super-charged dynamo in her Dubstep “Cinema” AFF, ‬where she seems to pantomime a short-circuiting android spasming on a (dis)assembly line, ‬a departure from the slick dance covers of the ‬20th century commercial entertainment industry. She also plays the tormented beauty of a will to survive in her Katniss Everdeen ‬Hunger Games-inspired AFF, and her precise and explosive performance to‭ “Blow” at the 2012 Dance Nationals at Bally’s in Las Vegas won her second place overall.

David Hofmann - Via Dolorosa (2012)

David Hofmann – Via Dolorosa (2012)

Only the hard-bodied technical virtuoso Sophia Lucia,‭ ‬famed for her fifty-four consecutive pirouettes (and having appeared on the ‬Ellen DeGeneres Show) scored better.‭ ‬Though Sophia’s performance to “‬Requiem for a Dream” ‬was flawless and chilling,‭ the two dancers ‬are not so much competitors as co-spirits and friends, having danced together many times.

Autie has presented the work of numerous other legends of girls’ dance in her AFFs such as Charlize Glass,‭ ‬Larson Thompson and Sarah Shepherd.‭ She hasn’t limited her career to completion dances and online uploads;‭ ‬she was in Willow Smith’s “‬Whip My Hair” 2010 ‬music video. Willow—actor Will Smith’s daughter—also produced “‬21st Century Girl,”‬ ‬the kind of image Autie hopes to create for an upcoming AFF.‭ ‬A post-modern star,‭ ‬Autie is featured as a character in the Nintendo video game “‬Just Dance Kids 2” for Wii.‭

Nintendo - Just Dance Kids 2 (2011)

Nintendo – Just Dance Kids 2 (2011)

She showed up at the last Los Angeles Auto Show and this ‬picture of her in mid-leap was published in The Los Angeles Times.

Gary Friedman-Los Angeles Times - Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center (November 28, 2012)

Gary Friedman-Los Angeles Times – Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center (November 28, 2012)

‭She has also been on TV’s ‬Dancing with the Stars,‭ ‬Shake It Up and Mobbed ‬and recently had the opportunity to interview the hip-hop star Nelly.‭ She showcased her teaching skill at ‬‬2013 ‬Velocity Dance, where she lead mass dance classes. Rounding out her achievements,‭ Autumn and her mom are branching out into prêt-à-porter fashion: ‬marketing KBM Talent gear and Autie’s Freestyle Friday T-shirts, which can be purchased online.

Autie Miller has done a great service advancing girl’s dance and demonstrating that little girls are capable of virtuosity ‬as dancers,‭ ‬intellectual brilliance ‬as home-school choreographers and can display ‬spiritual depth ‬as artists.‭ ‬A freestyle dancer can uniquely serve as both painter and canvas—practically a poster-child for Pigtails in Paint.

Autumn, Krista & Cory Miller - I was Here (April 20, 2012) (2)

Autumn, Krista & Cory Miller – I was Here (April 20, 2012) (2)

Autie’s official website

KBM Talent (official website)

David Hofmann Photography (official website)

David Hofmann (Webstagram)


Heavenly Light: Lukas Roels

In the early days of scientific inquiry, people believed that light had to be the basic material God had used to make the universe. Whether science has served to clarify or confound its nature, the literal exploration of light entered the domain of the artist once it could be captured on film. All photographers must somehow master light to accomplish the desired effect, but few photographers have inspired me to consider the human experience of light so deeply.

Lukas Roels was born in 1957 in Ghent, Belgium and it remains his home to this day. He studied photography at the Academy of Arts there but felt the program had little to offer him, so he left after a few months and engaged in self-study. Because he wanted to be taken seriously, he did complete exams before a special commission and participated in internships at various photographers’ studios before striking out on his own. Initially, he had a brief career as a press photographer, but as that kind of work was unfulfilling, he worked his way to a professorship while pursuing the artistic side of his craft. He teaches at several schools and leads workshops for children and adults.

Roels says he got started on the “Angels of Time” series by coincidence. Although he had already been photographing the children of close friends, when he got a pair of wings as a present one day, it inspired him to begin this series using them.

Lukas Roels - No Angel (2001)

Lukas Roels – No Angel (2001)

His first photograph of a child with the wings was Papi. As it was not the first time he had photographed a child naked, it never occurred to him that some people would react so strongly. Papi got her nickname from the people in her hometown who began to call her “Papillon” (French for butterfly) because of the shape of her eyes. It was later shortened to “Papi”.

Lukas Roels - Papi (2001)

Lukas Roels – Papi (2001)

Roels was not trying to make any kind of statement at the time, but the reactions of friends were very good, so he continued to photograph their children. After Papi came Sisters I then Sisters II. The younger one, Marieke, he photographed again years later when she was about 11. So this is a personal series for the artist and his relationships with the people involved have been an integral part of his life. He hopes someday to photograph the children of his former models. He has exhibited all over the world, but in his home country he is far less well-known because of the controversy involved. I learned of “Angels of Time” when a catalog of his exhibition in Bruge was produced in 2010 and became available to a wider audience. This created the impression that he was new on the scene but in fact he has been working at a slow pace for 25 years now. With true artists, the kind of mind that can create a beautiful work is not one that is necessarily skilled at self-promotion.

Lukas Roels - Sisters I (2002)

Lukas Roels – Sisters I (2002)

One of the aspects of children that intrigues Roels is their tendency toward androgyny. He wants to go beyond gender and show the universal beauty of a young body. There is clearly nothing sexual about it and he makes no effort to hide anything or to provoke. The artist simply gives these young people the freedom to express their natures and personalities with self-assurance. This challenges some viewers who find it more difficult looking at a photograph than a more derivative sculpture or painting. However, Roels insists there is no difference and his photography is as much an abstraction as any other medium; there is someone who poses and there is the artist who endeavors to capture an eternal moment of beauty. There is another excellent shot of this boy taken later when he was 13 called Death of an Angel which can be seen on his website.

Lukas Roels - Androgyn Angel I (2007)

Lukas Roels – Androgyn Angel I (2007)

In a country with a strong Catholic heritage, it would have been hard for Roels not to assimilate some of its iconography, such as angels’ wings symbolizing spiritual flight. Real children are earthbound, yet it does not seem incongruous for them to have wings. It is as though they enjoy a grace period of innocence where adults treat them with tender reverence. The artist uses natural daylight exclusively, and though its intensity may verge on harshness, it never diminishes the delicate and subtle features of his subjects. In most cases there is a strong suggestion that the light is coming from above: a heavenly light.

Lukas Roels - Marianne (2008)

Lukas Roels – Marianne (2008)

The older and perhaps more vital of Western Europe’s spiritual legacies is the Classical. Pagan symbols have much power and poignancy when conveying the pristineness of young beauty.

Lukas Roels - Jona (1995)

Lukas Roels – Jona (1995)

At first, I did not notice the exquisite quality of Roels’ compositions, but when a friend of mine was moving, he asked me to hold some of his prints for safekeeping until he settled in. I hadn’t realized how different the same image can look in a larger size; the A3-sized print of Our Days on Earth took my breath away. After closer examination, I noticed that it brought out a kind of horizontal rippling of light and shadow. The vibrancy of the effect was further enhanced by the girl’s expression of joyful exuberance. It is not shown here because doing so might cause problems for the artist. Although the girl and her mother were pleased with the results, the father (and ex-husband) has taken exception with its public exhibition. Fortunately, it can still be seen in the large-format book Angels of Time published in late 2011 by TimeWorks, and prints can be purchased by private collectors.

Roels, like many who came before, has had his own trial of tears with the authorities. Fortunately, he had firmly established himself as a legitimate artist before the various high-profile scandals about pedophilia. About five years ago there was a police investigation; they searched his house and questioned him for hours. They confiscated his computer and all the negatives they could find. It appears they had received a tip from a lab that made prints for him. Fortunately, there was an intelligent investigating judge who decided that this work had nothing to do with child pornography. It illustrates something I remember another artist saying about European versus U.S. courts. Being rather more artistically literate, judges in Europe seem better able to distinguish art from mere vulgar exploitation. After the judge’s ruling he got all of his property back. Now he does much of his own printing, and the larger sizes are done in a nearby lab by people he knows and with whom he has established mutual trust. To publish the hardcover book, he had to approach three printing companies; the first ones would not print his work because of the subject matter. An air of paranoia has made many people nervous about being connected with certain material involving children, despite its aesthetic or artistic quality.

Roels recently began to develop more complex compositions, introducing natural backgrounds in his new series “Les Voyages Imaginaire” (Imaginary Voyages). I have observed that it is a natural evolution for many artists to progress from a pure focus on human subjects to a stronger emphasis on backgrounds and landscapes. This image strikes me as hopeful, the dove being a potent symbol of love and peace.

Lukas Roels - Le Paysage de Rêve (2012)

Lukas Roels – Le Paysage de Rêve (2012)

It is gratifying to know that the artist is still producing new work in spite of the obstacles. This new piece is striking in how the sharply contrasting background brings out the outline of the figure, further accentuated by the dynamic pose. This image is quite sculptural in quality and I can easily imagine the ancient Greeks appreciating this piece.

Lukas Roels - (Untitled) (2013)

Lukas Roels – (Untitled) (2013)

Both boys and girls are well represented in Roels’ exhibitions and published work and now his fascination with androgyny has progressed another step. He has just begun work on a new project that he says is all about transgender people. Although he expects this venture to be a challenge, it won’t be the same kind as that involved in working with his child models.

Lukas Roels (official website)

Ironic Idolatry, et al.

One would be hard-pressed to find any historian who regards little girls as big players in the course of history, yet when one looks closely, they make their presence known. One of the earliest landmark television series on art and history had some of these interesting anecdotes. It was a thirteen-part series called Civilisation, hosted by Kenneth Clark and aired in 1969.

Kenneth Clark, Peter Montagnon & David Attenborough – Civilisation: The Great Thaw (1969) (1)

In the second episode, called The Great Thaw, I was startled to find a few minutes dedicated to a story about the cult of a little girl. It seems that during late Roman times there was a girl who refused to worship idols as a Christian and remained obstinate in the face of persistent social pressure and thus was martyred. Her relics began to work miracles and the cult of Sainte Foy (Saint Faith) began. In the 10th Century, the story of one miracle in Conques, France reached the bishop of Chartres, who then sent Bernard of Angers to investigate. It seems a man’s eyes had been smitten by a jealous priest and he was blinded. Later, when the man visited the shrine of Sainte Foy, his vision was restored. Witnesses claimed that the eyes were taken up to heaven by either a dove or a magpie so that they might be restored. The bishop was satisfied with Angers’ report and ordered that a Romanesque church be built at the site, an important stop on several pilgrimage routes.

Kenneth Clark, Peter Montagnon & David Attenborough – Civilisation: The Great Thaw (1969) (2)

The relic in question was installed in a golden statue studded with gems inside the church. It’s ironic that a little girl who refused to worship idols should be commemorated in this way.

Kenneth Clark, Peter Montagnon & David Attenborough – Civilisation: The Great Thaw (1969) (3)

Kenneth Clark, Peter Montagnon & David Attenborough – Civilisation: The Great Thaw (1969) (4)

Except for it’s small stature, it is hard to imagine this figure represents a little girl. As a matter of convenience, the mask of a late Roman emperor was used to make the face.

Kenneth Clark, Peter Montagnon & David Attenborough – Civilisation: The Great Thaw (1969) (5)

I was pleased to see Kenneth Clark pay attention to the lives of ordinary people during these times, and sometimes that included children. Another notable artwork was a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby. He made a number of paintings that seem to glorify the Age of Reason and the early Industrial Age, but each hints at something more disturbing and foreboding. An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump was a painting illustrating how gentlemen of leisure would conduct scientific experiments, this time studying the effects of removing the air on a hapless cockatoo. As one examines the center of the scene, we see two elegant and tender-hearted girls showing distress at this spectacle. One gentleman seems to be explaining to them the necessity of such endeavors while another seems to be expressing doubts.

Joseph Wright of Derby – An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768)

The creation of the Civilisation series is itself a remarkable story, and I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in European history or art. The U.S. was conducting early experiments with color television in the mid and late sixties, but the results were garish and simplistic. U.K. critics were questioning whether color was really worth the effort. In 1965, David Attenborough was put in charge of BBC2 and his mandate was to make the network innovative; he decided to introduce color and better image resolution as its mainstay. Kenneth Clark was a historian and a popular figure in British media but, approaching age 70, he had yet to learn the subtleties of presenting in a TV format. Attenborough and other producers felt that BBC2‘s color debut should be something really stunning, and it was decided to do a series on Western European art and to actually bring the relevant architecture, sculpture, paintings and music directly to the TV audience. Because this series was an ambitious endeavor, budget costs were understandably high, but Attenborough felt the series was of such high quality that it could be shown twice a week, effectively halving its air-time budget. As few had color televisions, many people organized Civilisation parties each week so that friends could share the experience.

Another innovation was the use of the subtitle “A Personal View,” used by the BBC many times hence. The problem was that Clark had an interesting but subjective view of history, and this phrase was added in anticipation to the inevitable scholarly objections. Clark had difficulty integrating the Spanish contribution to art and simply decided it was easier to ignore it. To Attenborough, it made perfect sense to use art history as a showcase for color, but he had a background in zoology and caught some flak from his associates, who felt his first major venture should have been about natural history. He made up for this by producing The Ascent of Man and then Life on Earth shortly thereafter. These successful series established the BBC’s reputation and style for the coming decades.

More about Civilisation

Wikipedia: Kenneth Clark

Wikipedia: David Attenborough

Sulamith Wülfing: Allegories and Transformations

Another recurring theme throughout Sulamith Wülfing’s art is transformation.  Many of her figures are in the midst of change of some sort, often in a symbolic way.  Thus, her ‘young girls as budding flowers’ allegory applies here.  There is, at any rate, an element of the fantastic in most of her work.

Before I post the actual artwork, here is a photo of Wülfing as a young child, taken by (I believe) an uncle.  Certainly a relative of some sort.  I’m not going to label this one as it is already labeled with all the pertinent information: the photographer’s name is at the bottom right and the subject’s name and the date of the photo are at bottom left.

Sulamith Wülfing – Autumn Storm

Sulamith Wülfing – Blue Flower

Sulamith Wülfing – Circle Rounds

Sulamith Wülfing – Circle Rounds (detail)

Sulamith Wülfing – Easter Candles (1952)

Sulamith Wülfing – Everything Sleeps with the Little Flower

Here’s another of my favorite Wülfing pieces. I love the detailing on the boat’s prow and its reflection in the water. Simple a fantastic illustration!

Sulamith Wülfing – In the Boat (1941)

Sulamith Wülfing – Night is Like a Quiet Sea

Sulamith Wülfing – Night is Like a Quiet Sea (detail)

Butterflies and moths, being transformative creatures themselves, frequently make an appearance in her art.

Sulamith Wülfing – Nocturnal Butterflies

Sulamith Wülfing – The Circle (1938)

Sulamith Wülfing – The Circle (detail) (1938)

Sulamith Wülfing – Transformation

Sulamith Wülfing (title unknown) (1)

Sulamith Wülfing (title unknown) (2) (1932)

Wikipedia: Sulamith Wülfing