Take Me To Your Leader: UFO Paintings by Esther Pearl Watson

When I was 13 or so, my dad came inside from smoking on the porch late on night and announced nonchalantly that he’d seen a UFO. Though my dad was known for his extremely dry and sarcastic sense of humor, he was not the kind of person to make up something like that, so we immediately perked up. He described a strange light in the sky unlike anything he’d ever seen before, and after a few minutes of my brothers demanding to know every detail, I got angry and told them to be quiet because clearly he was lying. In fact, I just wanted them to all shut up because it was freaking me out.

UFOs and I have had a long and tortured relationship, since the 80’s Time-Life “Mysteries of the Unexplained” commercial simultaneously terrified and fascinated me. These days, Esther Pearl Watson’s series of UFO paintings remind me of the weird place that UFOs hold in my own mind, and the way they’ve become a modern folklore narrative in our culture. Previously known to me from the Tammy Pierce is Unlovable comics, Esther’s paintings were inspired by her own UFO-obsessed father, and include snippets of her childhood journals. Their folk art feel is Grandma Moses meets flea market, combining giant spaceships, tiny figures, and swirling cosmos of endless possibilities.

Incidentally, the morning after my dad’s UFO sighting, there were reports of a unexplained lights in the sky from locations all around Southern Michigan the night before. Cue the spooky music

Via Austin Kleon

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