Tuesday, July 7, Sunnyshore Studio released its first season of Fairy Sightings on YouTube. We caught up with the studio’s Artistic Director Jason Dorsey to learn more about the vision behind the Fairy Sightings series.
Sunnyshore Studio: How did Fairy Sightings come to be?
Jason: Do you mean how did we start making fairy videos? Or why are we making fairy videos.
Sunnyshore Studio: Both
Jason: I started making videos of my being on a quest to sight a fairy a couple of years ago for fun and to celebrate my mom Ann and her grandmother, Fanny Y. Cory’s love for fairies. In October 2017, we celebrated the 140th anniversary of Fanny with an art show, publishing a biography of her life, and releasing a documentary of her life. In the midst of diving into her life I discovered Fanny’s love for fairies. Growing up I had read her popular Fairy Alphabet with twenty-six watercolor paintings of fairies each with a rhyme to go with the letter of the alphabet.
Shooting footage for the documentary I visited the Montana Museum of History where Fanny’s fairy watercolors and other original illustrations are stored in a protected vault. I was blown away by the original watercolors. They were exquisite in detail, color, composition and “magic” if I can use that word.
I learned from interviewing my mom that growing up Fanny had taught her about Queen Mav who they searched for in the flowers near Fanny’s cottage on Camano and that Fanny had continued to paint fairies in flowers, climbing into birds nests, and so on into her old age, until she lost her sight.
So originally going on a “quest” to sight a fairy was my nod to a love of fairies that my great-grandmother gave to my mom. But it quickly became more serious.
Sunnyshore Studio: What do you mean
Jason: What I mean is this. Fairies tap into the imagination. And I believe the imagination is one of the most important and powerful attributes God endows us with. And what I see today is that children have a real hunger for the imaginary, but that hunger is being fed through through video games. I think the attraction to video games is precisely how they tap into the imagination; creating visually splendid and awe-inspiring worlds. But when kids feed their imagination by partaking in another person’s or corporations “imagination” it is like they are living off processed fast food. It tastes good, but there can be so much more!
Sunnyshore Studio: Aren’t you creating an imaginary quest for kids with your Fairy Sightings?
Jason: In a way I can say “yes we are” but in an important way I say “no we are not.” Here’s what I mean. Fairy sightings is about getting kids to see the mystery in the world around them. To create “fairy friendly habitats” made out of moss and rock and found objects. In other words, it’s about helping kids exercise their imagination. Not do it for them.
Sunnyshore Studio: What’s so important about the imagination?
Jason: The imagination is a God-endowed attribute that sees beyond what is to what could be. With our imagination we can dream up a novel, compose a song, fashion a painting, create a new structure, inspire a new organization before any of those things actually come to be. The imagination taps into the massive potentialities of creation. It allows us to be sub-creators. Your imagination doesn’t see what is, it sees what could be, and it helps you create it. But we shouldn’t think of the imagination as always good, or even neutral. The imagination can give birth to beauty but also bad. The imagination can also atrophy. That’s why I don’t think you are ever to old to begin to exercise your imagination. It’s never to late to take steps to write that biography, poem, or history. It’s always worth it to see if painting might be a pastime. That’s why this fifty one year old Presbyterian pastor is on a quest for fairies and making films about it.
Sunnyshore Studio: How have you seen this work with kids
Jason: In October 2019, I gave an “author talk” to elementary school children on the imagination. To make my talk more interactive, I went out into the woods and gathered a bunch of sticks, rocks, leaves, moss and other found objects. I also added in some of the small fairy things my wife had collected for her Fairy Mystery Boxes. After talking about my great-grandmother Fanny and how important the imagination is, I put the box of found objects and fairy things in the middle of the floor and asked the kids help me make fairy friendly habitats. Oh my goodness, it was so fun to see them run back and forth from the box and so inspiring to see what they created out of stuff anyone could find just walking through the woods. They loved it. Kids have this bent early on to play imaginary games, make forts, and create these imaginary worlds. But often that side of them is not nurtured and it atrophies.
Sunnyshore Studio: What are fairy boxes?
Jason: Fairy boxes are something that my wife Jenny made up. Jenny loves little things. She puts little fairy creatures, little things she collects, and a fairy illustration by Fanny Y. Cory in a box. People buy the box but they don’t know what is inside. They are a perfect gift if you want to encourage your child’s imagination. Buy a Fairy Mystery Box and with your son or daughter or grandson or grandaughter create a fairy friendly environment, outside or inside, for the fairy stuff to go in.
Sunnyshore Studio: What is the first season of Fairy Sightings about?
Jason: In this first episode you meet Jason (me). I share that I am on a quest to sight a fairy. I introduce my mom, Ann, who is a real live Fairy Master. Ann shares some fairy lore with me and shows me some of her fairy friendly habitat. After this I go outside to try to spot a fairy, and I see some signs of fairy activity, but Mom doesn’t say for sure. At Sunnyshore Studio which is just a few hundred yards south of Mom and Dad’s home, I show a fairy friendly place near my road. I also discover some marks of fairies, including a fairy circle in the woods near the studio. I name these woods fairy hollow and at night I sneak out to spot a fairy, and I find fairies dancing at the circle. But I’m not quick enough to catch them. However, a few days later, my niece Willow find a fairy treasure in a shell and we have the fun of looking at that.
Sunnyshore Studio: Anything else you want to say?
Jason: Yes, one more thing. My friend Eric Locke who is a composer on the side, did the music for Fairy Sightings – Season One. He has a wonderful imagination and ability to make music fit the mood. I am so excited to be partnering with Eric on this project. I think he might believe in fairies too.