Mary Blair started out as an animator for Walt Disney very early on She was brought over from the studio of Walt's one time friend and partner, but later competitor Ub Iwerks. Mary heavily influenced the look and feel of Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland, but also worked on other favorites like Dumbo and Lady and The Tramp.
Mary Blair left Disney in the 50's to pursue other career goals. However, leading up to the 1964 World's Fair, Disney asked Mary to be the creative guide for a project he was working on for UNICEF that would be sponsored by Pepsi-Cola. It's a Small World After all became one of the most popular attractions and enduring symbols of the '64 World's Fair.
Along with the ride's artistic design, Blair created a kinetic sculpture for the courtyard infront of the UNICEF pavilion entitled The Tower of Four Winds. Today, a scale model of this sculpture can be found in the grand concourse at Disney's Contemporary Resort.
Another piece of Blair's work towers over the concourse at the Contemporary in the form of a mural on the sides of the central elevators. This mural depicts Native American themes, albeit not very accurately (count the legs on the goats), in earth tones with the classic form that can be seen in It's a Small World.
Blair died suddenly at the age of 67 from a brain hemmorage. However, Blair left an indelible effect on the Theme Park industry as Small World has become a standard in ride design. Her artistic style continues to influence the creative minds of many people around the world.
As a tribute to Blair, Disney has release several items for sale at the Art of Disney Stores taken from her prints. You can purchase postcards, scarves, plates, and even a vase.Tweet
One correction: she didn't design the Tower of the Four Winds; that was done by fellow Imagineer, Rolly Crump. Likewise, while Blair deserves the most credit for designing "it's a small world," many others including Crump, Marc Davis, Alice Davis, and Blaine Gibson, were instrumental in creating the attraction.
Personally, I think this woman is both a genius and a pioneer. She seems to be one of the only female artists that Walt trusted. For that time, I think she broke bariers
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