I think we are all ready for some sunshine in our lives, so today, my blog post will focus on a woman who brightened things up and helped our world become a little smaller after all! I’m talking about Disney Legend, Mary Blair who is best known for the design of It’s A Small World, concept art for Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Cinderella, and the large mosaic mural in the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World. Her style and design is revered by artists across the world and is still an inspiration for Disney artists and Imagineers today.
Blair joined Disney Animation in 1940 and a year later traveled South America with Walt and his wife Lilly on a research trip. On that trip, she created watercolors of the destinations, impressing Walt who then appointed her art supervisor of Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. She worked on a variety of feature animation projects in the 1940s and 1950s.
Her work became a centerpiece for millions of people across the world when It’s A Small World, benefiting UNICEF, debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Blair’s whimsical design and color style were an instant hit among the fairgoers as well as the iconic song from Robert and Richard Sherman. Working along with Blair on the ride were fellow Disney Legends Marc Davis, Alice Davis, and Rolly Crump.
The famous ride would be replicated at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland. Her other works can be found at the Mexico pavilion at Epcot, Tomorrowland at Disneyland, and one of her largest pieces of art at the Contemporary Resort. Blair’s style is so distinct that fellow Disney artists have used it at various resorts and attractions across the world.
Walt greatly admired Blair’s work and her contributions to the studio and Imagineering. She was the first to bring modernist art styles to Disney. Walt personally assigned Blair projects outside of the company including a mural at the Eye Institute at the University of California.
Once we are able to walk through the gates of Disney Parks again, take a moment to enjoy and appreciate the work of Mary Blair. Her design, characters, and colors have brought joy and smiles to millions of people across our small world and have inspired artists for decades!