As soon as the teddy bear toy first entered the market, it was a wild success. In episode #40, writer Jon Mooallem tells us the presidential origin story of the teddy bear, how it was marketed to the American public, and how it has remained a steady companion to generations and generations of children.
The myth behind the success of the teddy bear reminds me of something Barry Lopez wrote in Of Wolves and Men: “The truth is we know little about the wolf. What we know a good deal more about is what we imagine the wolf to be.” In that sentence we can easily substitute wolf for bear. While cultural imagination continues to frame the wolf as fierce and fearful, the bear’s image has been pacified and made cuddly, no doubt in large part because of the success of the teddy bear.
Below are two portraits of pacified bears: an old one of a friend’s beloved stuffed bear, Silas, and a more recent photograph of someone’s collection of Bank of the West promotional stuffed bears displayed on their car dashboard.
[Photo credit: Kate Joyce Silas, Oakland, California 2002 ]
[Photo credit: Kate Joyce Teddy bear dashboard collection, San Francisco, CA 2012 ]
Kate Joyce is a Chicago based artist, architectural photographer, and the first image correspondent for 99% Invisible. Every two weeks, Joyce will release new and original work for specific episodes. She’ll also comb through her archive to find previously made photographs that are already in thematic conversation with current and past episodes. “I’m curious to see how audio will shape image and image will shape audio and what that will mean to telling stories about design over time,” Joyce says.
Now You See It is a photography project of 99% Invisible. We’d like to create a public dialogue by offering our listeners a new way to interact with our show, as well as their own immediate environment. The project includes the Image Correspondent Residency with Kate Joyce, and ongoing photo assignments for listeners.
We want to see what you hear! Submit your images to our Flickr Group, or email them to [email protected] or put them on Instagram with the hashtag #99PI. We’ll be curating and presenting our favorites on our Instagram and Tumblr.
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