I See That Fable Differently: Selections from Creighton University’s Carlson Fable Collection
Organized by Joslyn Art Museum in partnership with Creighton University.

Over the past 35 years, Fr. Greg Carlson, S.J., has collected some 9,000 books, and thousands of objects, all presenting Aesopic fables, and all making their home at Creighton University. For Fr. Carlson, the diverse interpretations and representations of different storytellers and artists have made the stories more interesting than ever. Last fall, during a Creighton University Honors Program course entitled “Researching and Exhibiting Aesop,” Fr. Carlson, Associate Professor Erin Walcek Averett, and Jess Benjamin, Creighton’s Lied Art Gallery Director, guided a team of undergraduate students, who selected and researched more than forty objects, representing thirteen fables, that comprise this exhibition. Books, prints, tableware, tiles, toys, cards, and even a dinner menu combine to suggest different ways of seeing what happens in each fable. At least two objects illustrate each fable. Joslyn’s The Grasshopper and the Ant, painted by Jean Georges Vibert and on view in the Kiewit Gallery, was the topic of a lecture Fr. Carlson delivered at the Museum in 2010, which sparked the development of this Mind's Eye Gallery exhibition. Seven items in the show, from a newspaper cartoon to a fancy knife rest, question what happened between that grasshopper and ant. For each of the stories represented, visitors to the exhibition might just come away saying “Now I see that fable differently!”

In the ancient telling of this fable, it is summer and the laidback grasshopper hops about, chirping and singing, while the hardworking ant toils in the sun, taking an ear of corn to its nest. The grasshopper urges the ant to rest, but he refuses. When winter comes, the grasshopper, near starvation, stumbles across the ant and his colony, all of whom are enjoying a feast from their summer stores.

One Tale, Two Artist Renderings

From Joslyn's collection, Vibert has recast the familiar fable: A tattered minstrel, who squandered the summer months playing music rather than preparing for winter, begs a traveling monk for food. Although the monk is equipped with an overflowing rucksack, he refuses the minstrel’s request due to his lack of hard work and proper planning. From the Carlson collection, printmaker Gustave Doré also pictures the story as a human situation. A musician stands at a door in the snow with the children of the house looking up at her with sympathy. Their mother looks down from the top of the steps, her tireless industry indicated by the fact that she continues knitting.

Companion Exhibition @ Creighton

From January 12 through February 11, see Thundering Tortoises and Horrified Hares: Aesop’s Fables in Popular Culture, a complementary exhibition drawn from the Carlson Collection, curated by Creighton students, and on view at Creighton University's Lied Art Gallery (2500 California Plaza). On Thursday, February 8, plan to gallery hop! From 5-6:30 pm, stop by the Lied Art Gallery to enjoy appetizers and a cash bar and to see what happens when Aesop meets pop culture. Joslyn’s exhibition will be open until 8 pm (cash bar begins at 5 pm). Fr. Greg Carlson will be on hand to visit with guests at the Museum after 6:30 pm.

I See That Fable Differently is sponsored by Fran & Rich Juro and Cynthia Epstein & David Wiesman.

What's pictured: (above left) Jean Georges Vibert (French, 1840–1902), The Grasshopper and the Ant (La Cigale et La Formi), oil on canvas, Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.44; (above right) "The Cicada and the Ant," from Fables de La Fontaine, Tome I, 1867, Jean de La Fontaine avec les dessins de Gustave Doré (Hardbound. First edition. Paris: Hachette)

Exhibition-Related Events & Programs

Sunday, February 11 @ 2 pm
Public Talk: Why Artists Love Aesop