Captivating Storytelling: IBEX Puppetry at the Gallery at Avalon Island

Standing alone, it is the serene stillness of the puppet that is first noticed. An inanimate captive of both place and time, at present it draws you in the only way it can: with its perfect pose, so carefully selected and placed by the absent puppet master. Upon closer inspection, it is the puppet’s solemn, sincere gaze, tracking and holding yours, that spawns interest in seeing it commanded to action. One cannot help but wonder what gestures will be bestowed during its temporary life, and what pose it shall be forced to occupy, perhaps into eternity, when no longer enjoying the whim and artistry of its master’s hands.

Helaine Schneider. From the film The Neverending Story

Mike Heyen. Cosmo and Perri, from the film Adventures in Space

The IBEX Puppetry exhibition, on display now at the Gallery at Avalon Island, creates this dynamic in those who experience it. A complex and continually evolving art form, puppetry intricately combines the craft of storytelling with live performance. Merging the two immerses the audience deeper within the story while creating desire for insight behind the art of the puppets themselves. This singularly unique exhibition compels such an immersion and grants you precisely that insight.

Heather Henson, Creative Director at IBEX Puppetry, channels her passion for the environment into her work while furthering the Henson family legacy within the puppetry realm (she is the daughter of Muppets creator Jim Henson). The ultimate goal of IBEX and this exhibition is to share puppetry far beyond the tight-knit community of artists who are already involved in the creation and presentation of this unique art form.

Lyon Hill. Set from the film Junk Palace

While expanding the reach of her art, Henson’s efforts at IBEX are also raising awareness and engendering activism around the endangered animals of the world and more specifically, in our state of Florida. Through the IBEX “Environmental Spectacles” series, components of which are on display in this exhibition, Henson takes inspiration from nature and advocates for harmony between all creatures on earth. “She has really begun to dig deep into puppetry for making statements,” says Aimee Jordan, who works closely with Henson at IBEX.

The art and impact of Henson and IBEX is about far more than the inanimate puppets themselves. IBEX puppets burst to life in film, on stages, at gallery exhibits, in workshops, and through artist presentations. The IBEX exhibition at the Gallery at Avalon Island showcases both “Environmental Spectacles” puppets, as well as creations and films from their “Handmade Puppet Dreams” film series.

Experience it yourself through June 10 at the Gallery at Avalon Island, 39 S. Magnolia Ave, Orlando FL 32801.

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Bailey Johnson. Photo by Jason Fronczek



Presented by Art Gallery at Mills Park