Super heroes and monsters have been the trending topics in movies and television recently, but the daring and scaring have always been a part of human culture.
BYU’s Museum of Art’s newest exhibit, “We Could Be Heroes: The Mythology of Monsters and Heroes in Contemporary Art,” opens on Dec. 7, letting viewers explore mythology in modern times.
“This exhibition is linking these current trends with history and realizing this isn’t anything new, but many societies have these stories with heroes and monsters,” said Jeff Lambson, curator of the exhibit.
Heroes and monsters have existed in human imaginations and translated into stories in many different cultures. The exhibit will explore how a hero is defined for people from all different time periods and countries as well as what it takes for a character to become something that is incorporated into a culture.
Lambson added that cultures have different views of what it means to be called a hero.
“We’re asking questions about what makes the hero a hero and how the hero is not always the straight up ‘good guy,'” Lambson said. “Sometimes one person’s hero is another person’s terrorist.”
Ann Lambson, Head of Education at the MOA explained how the exhibit will focus on exploring not only the fun side of heroes and monsters, but also complex issues about our views of heroes.
“We’re looking at the broadest definition of a hero; we’re not just looking at comic book type of heroes,” she said. “We have certain stereotypes about heroes and monsters and I think that it’s raising questions of what makes a hero.”
The strong and quick-witted characteristics of heroes and monsters in Western cinema today differ from other cultures. Characters such as Bigfoot, a life-size Loch Ness Monster and Captain America will be shown in the exhibit along with others from around the world.
Over 40 international artists, from Korea, Romania, Poland, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, and other countries contributed their work to the exhibit, showcasing their own country’s heroes and monsters. Some characters may not be immediately recognized as hero or monster.
Museum Director Mark Magleby commented on the wide variety of artists that have contributed to the event.
“Communities throughout history have demonstrated their values by the heroes they exalt, and by the monsters they manufacture,” Magleby said in a news release. “This exhibition confirms the vitality of historical mythologies in 21st century social negotiations. It brings together an extraordinary spectrum of prescient artists who are caught in the act of conceptualizing both good and evil and the perils of choosing the wrong role model.”
Carolyn Haynie, the public relations specialist at the Museum of Art, added that while the exhibit will appeal to many different people, students in particular will have an enjoyable visit.
“There will be heroes and monsters to resonate with particularly the university age group at this exhibition,” she said. “I can almost guarantee that students will like something on display.”