Gary Bolding, Big Gulp Altarpiece, 2003, oil on three wood panels, 15 x 44 in., Museum purchase by the Cornell Anniversary Acquisitions Fund. 2003.9 © Gary Bolding
May 20 - August 29, 2021

Creatures in the Margins

Throughout human history, animals have been tied to visual and literary narratives across cultures, religions, and time periods. They have been protagonists in folklore and fables, spiritual deities, representations of power and nation, and fetishized tokens of exoticism. Within these stories, animals are rarely just animals. Rather, they are given human qualities in the form of emotions, beliefs, and ambitions—the fertile frog-headed Heqet of the Egyptian pantheon, the deceptive snake in the Garden of Eden, the prudent tortoise that raced the impatient hare. 

Responding to the Greater Orlando area’s library 2021 summer reading theme “Tails & Tales,” the exhibition Creatures in the Margins explores the relationship between animals and human conditions. Featuring works by Mary Russell Smith, Amy Sillman, Camille Henrot, and Gary Bolding, themes relating to war, punishment and reward, spirituality, and institutional power are considered in the guise of animals existing in the fantastical and natural world.   

How do the associations between animals and abstract ideas projected onto them shape their social perception and use? Which character traits are based less on nature and more on narratives in storybooks, sacred texts, and folklore? Visitors are invited to explore the different characters assembled in the exhibition and consider their individual interpretations of the animal kingdom based on a wholly human context. 

Mary Russell Smith, (American, 1842 -1878), The Catastrophe, 1864, Oil on Canvas, 8 x 10 in., Gift in Honor of Gatsby Philip Narayan Mukherjee
Amy Sillman, (American, b. 1955), After Metamorphoses, 2015-16, Single-channel video on 5:25 min. looped, color, sound, The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Gift of Barbara '68 and Theodore '68 Alfond, 2017.6.62. Image courtesy of the artist.

Want to explore more animal-based stories? Click on the links below for recommended Tails & Tales reading lists for all ages from your local libraries.

Winter Park Public Library
Maitland Public Library
Orange County Public Libraries
Seminole County Public Libraries
Osceola County Public Libraries

See the 360-degree virtual view of this exhibition.

Visitors must register online for tickets prior to arrival.

Normal Hours of Operation:
Monday closed
Tuesday 10 a.m - 7 p.m.
Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m - 4 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday Noon - 5 p.m.


407.646.2526
1000 Holt Avenue-2765
Winter Park, FL 32789