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.”
Amanda Craig says
How fun! Thank you for sharing!
That looks like a very interesting exhibit. I always thought Mary Blair was an early feminist (I mean that in a good way) but I didn’t realize she was doing some of her best work in 1941.
Jodi Whisenhunt says
The art of Mary Blair is so fun and colorful! Can’t imagine the Disney parks without her influence!
Mary Blair is the perfect Disney Woman to highlight today! Great job!
Clare Barnett (addedpixiedust) says
Perfect choice of inspirational women Didi! I visited the Disney art exhibition in Paris last October and many works by Mary Blair were on Display, a truly original artist who in many ways added a very different trailblazing dimension to the development of the art of Disney.
Lee Beatens says
Certainly a talent to remember! I picked up a book about the women in the ink and paint department and am looking forward to reading that! There are so many different perspectives to explore within the Disney organization.