Tales from Min ’Umbra

Tales from Min ’Umbra

October 6, 2022 – January 22, 2023

Tales from Min ’Umbra was born out of artist and puppeteer Tanya Yager’s vision to create shadow puppet shows that explore the deeper realms of the imagination. This exhibit will feature several series of miniature cut-paper shadow puppets narrating old-world Czech, German, and Welsh wintertime fairy tales. Yager’s selection explores traditional tales told during the long, dark winter nights, bringing visitors into mysterious realms installed in a phantastic presentation.

When the season turns dark, and the night is long, liminal spaces are revealed — and you may just find yourself peering into Min ‘Umbra. Where exactly is Min ’Umbra? Artist Tania Yager will tell you it is a place in time, between the first witches’ moon and the last embers of the dying Yule log, where spirits fly, and magic is real. She invites you to join her in this mystical realm.

The ethereal atmosphere of the old-world emanates from Yager’s diminutive and haunting silhouettes that tell tales from old-world lore. Drawing upon her ancestral ties to Germany, Wales, and the Czech Republic, Yager imparts the story of the German spirit Krampus, the Welsh Mari Lwyd, and the Czech water sprite the Vodnik. Each silhouette is a shadow cast from petite paper-cut puppets, designed and created by Yager, who is trained in the art of shadow puppetry among other forms of small-scale theater.

These old-world winter tales are not for the lighthearted: they are filled with ghostly horses, dancing devils, and impish sprites. Do not be afraid! Though the protagonists are fierce, if you heed their message, you will walk away from Min ‘Umbra filled with generosity and gratitude. Enduring the coldest, darkest days of the year takes courage and hope, and always there remains the promise of Spring.

Portrait of Tanya Yager About the Artist

Tania L. Yager is a longtime visual and performance artist based in San Diego, California. She is the founder, creative director, and lead fabricator of Twisted Heart Puppetworks. Yager is educated in traditional shadow puppetry, cinematic shadow theater, tabletop and toy theater, traditional Czech marionettes, and the art of cranky theatre (moving panoramas). She works passionately to produce original pieces of both long and short form puppetry for stage, screen, backyards, festivals, living rooms and art galleries. Inspired by fantasy and folklore, she has written and performed over twenty original puppet plays including Snake Heart Jack, The Night Zoo, Fenris Wolf and The Forest Wife.

Yager has exhibited her puppetry art at several galleries throughout Southern California and performs in puppetry slams across the US. In 2019, she was commissioned to work on the Maori-inspired shadow opera He-Portorino with The San Diego Symphony. She received the 2020 New York Catapult Opera Innovation Award for the collaborative project HANJO, and debuting her original Norse inspired shadow film The Horn & The Heart. In July 2021, she founded and produced the international shadow puppetry festival Shadows Across the Globe, bringing together shadow puppetry artists from thirteen different countries.

In the spring of 2022, Yager was a resident Fellow at the Virginia Center of Creative Arts, Amherst, VA. There, she combined her interest in miniatures and shadow theater to create the miniature shadow puppetry exhibition Tales from Min ’Umbra. A former resident of Tucson, she is excited to have Tales from Min ’Umbra at The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.