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New Neighbors Painting Inspires Theatrical Event

  • 2 min read

Denise's "New Neighbors" inspires theater production

Inspiration Comes From Anywhere And Everywhere

A few years ago, I visited The Art Institute of Chicago and enjoyed viewing American Gothic by Grant Wood, among other paintings in their collection. When the subject matter for my paintings evolved into robots and outer space, I was inspired to paint New Neighbors as an homage to the Grant Wood classic.

While working to emulate his colors, composition, and brush strokes, I altered the subjects (most obviously), but also modified things like the silo (now a rocket ship) and the pattern on her apron (now planets). The end result is a fun painting that brings a smile to my customers at art fairs.

Little did I know that my painting of New Neighbors would inspire a theatrical production at Barton Community College in Great Bend, KS. Dan Williams, Barton Director of Theatrical Activities, saw New Neighbors at one of my exhibits in Kansas, which inspired a conversation with his son and resulted in their production of the 1919 play "R.U.R. - Rossum's Universal Robots".

In case you're unaware, 'R.U.R.' was written by Karel Capek who introduced the word robot into our vocabulary. Robot comes from the Czech word robota, meaning forced labor. Although the play is rarely staged these days, it premiered on Broadway in 1922 with a cast that included Spencer Tracy and Pat O'Brien.

Inspiration, in this case, came full circle. Karel Capek's introduction of robot inspired much of the science fiction that inspired my work today. And my work helped inspire the staging of his play where today's concept of a robot took root.

The plot of R.U.R centers around robots that grow more intelligent and gradually overtake their makers. With the rapid advancement in AI, maybe it's a good time to take another look at this play! The link to an article in The Guardian provides an interesting perspective about AI and this play.

Here's hoping we all continue to inspire one positive ways, of course!

Here's a link to a few articles about the play: