A playful new exhibition by Fort Makers turns the pages of Margaret Wise Brown’s 1947 children’s book “Goodnight Moon” into a three-dimensional installation. Titled “Goodnight House,” the exhibition is currently on view at the collective’s gallery on 38 Orchard St. in the Lower East Side through May 27.
To bring the picturebook to life, the artist-run studio commissioned 14 artists whose “practices each embrace a childlike curiosity.” From fanciful furniture and lighting to candles in the “Goodnight Moon” colorway, the resulting pieces imagined by the artists coalesce into a dreamlike pop-out of the book.
“We asked each artist to further rekindle their childlike understanding of the world around them and create objects uninhibited by the horrors of adulthood,” Fort Makers cofounder and creative director Nana Spears said in a statement. “What better remedy than comfort and play?”
Taking off from Clement Hurd’s illustrations, the exhibition materializes several of the book’s iconic images seen in the bunny protagonist’s bedroom: the fireplace (woven by Liz Collins), the blue mantelpiece clock (Keith Simpson), the rocking chair (CHIAOZZA), the yellow-framed painting of a cow jumping over the moon (frame by Nick DeMarco, painting by Marcel Alcalá). Petite sculptural candles by Janie Korn capture some of the characters that populate “Goodnight Moon,” and hand-painted curtains by Naomi S. Clark line the star-filled windows painted on grass-green walls.
Since its publication in 1947, “Goodnight Moon” has become a bedtime staple for many children who have been lulled to sleep by the book’s rhyming pattern. The story is simple: A bunny says “goodnight” to objects in the immediate vicinity and beyond, including the stars, air and “noises everywhere.” For those familiar with the book, the installation holds within it the possibility of unlocking childhood memories long tucked away.
Though adored by many now, Spears noted that the title had poor sales in the first year of its release and was kept off the shelves of the New York Public Library until 1972 because librarian Anne Carroll Moore (who was recently honored by the library for Women’s History Month) disliked the book. The library recognized this last year by granting “Goodnight Moon” honorable mention on its top-10 checkouts list, which ranked titles back to 1895 as part of the institution’s 125th-anniversary celebrations.
“While subtly subversive, ‘Goodnight Moon’ allows us to see through the eyes of a child and instills in us essential tools for innovation,” Spears said. “That’s something worth celebrating.”
Top Image: Noah Spencer. Photo: Joe Kramm. Courtesy: Fort Makers.