Legendary Disney artist and animator, Mary Blair (1911-1978), took center stage at the inaugural Epcot International Festival of the Arts. In a fitting tribute to this Walt Disney-favorite, a mini-exhibit of the star’s sat in the Odyssey Festival Showplace for all fans to peruse. Named “South of the Border with Mary Blair,” this art collection takes us on a tour with Mary and Walt to South America in 1941. This tour inspired the cartoons Saludos Amigos and The Three Cabelleros. Eventually, Epcot’s Gran Fiesta Tour would incorporate this work. Take a tour of Mary Blair’s art in Epcot.
Disney fans might know Mary’s work best from her work on it’s a small world. But did you know that the giant “goat” murals in the Grand Canyon Concourse at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is also her handiwork? Have you attempted to crane your neck while riding the monorail to catch a glimpse? Have you found the 5-legged goat?! Her flair for color is so distinctive. And her portrayal of children, in particular, is ever whimsical.
Mary Blair was the original Disney feminist. International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to revisit how Walt himself viewed her life.
“If a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man,” Disney said, according to studio archives. “The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could.”
~ Walt Disney 1941
Certainly Mary Blair was part of Walt’s original inner circle. In the future, perhaps more homage will be paid to this female “imagineer.”