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“Goodnight room, goodnight moon, goodnight cow jumping over the moon.” For those who remember Margaret Wise Brown’s beloved book, the repetitive, sleepy verses immediately inspire comfort and warmth, like the smell of fresh-baked cookies or the twinkling glow of fireflies. Accompanied by Clement Hurd’s vibrantly-hued illustrations, the tale of a rabbit that says goodnight to everything in sight, from a pair of mittens to the air and stars, has become a children’s bedtime classic.
As Goodnight Moon nears its 75th anniversary, a group of 14 contemporary artists has come together to bring the story to life in an exhibition at the New York City artist-run studio Fort Makers. Goodnight Room, on view through May 27, recreates the iconic green bedroom, staging the story with newly-commissioned art and design: vibrant figurative paintings by Marcel Alcalá within whimsical geometric frames by Nick DeMarco; character-shaped wax candles by Janie Korn; a dreamy cloud-shaped side table by Adam Frezza and Terri Chiao, and much more.
In each of their practices, all of the artists in the show embrace a “childlike curiosity,” says Fort Makers co-founder Noah Spencer.
“We asked each artist to further rekindle their childlike understanding of the world around them, and create objects uninhibited by the horrors of adulthood,” Spencer said. “What better remedy than comfort and play?”
The exhibition celebrates the many aesthetic and poetic idiosyncrasies of Goodnight Moon, such as its eye-popping palette, lighthearted innocence, and its enchantingly strange, vaguely surrealist mood. When the book was first published, says co-founder and Creative Director Nana Spears, the New York Public Library’s chief children’s librarian disliked it so much, it didn’t make it onto the stacks for another 25 years.
“Despite the librarian’s opposition to a progressive wave of children’s literature, and even though the book had poor sales in its first year, Goodnight Moon eventually gained universal affection and became one of the most famous childrens’ books of all time,” Spears said. “While subtly subversive, Goodnight Moon allows us to see through the eyes of a child, and instills in us essential tools for innovation. That’s something worth celebrating.”
Peruse images of the Goodnight House below, or book an appointment to see the show in person at Fort Makers, 38 Orchard St., New York City, through May 27, 2021.