In 1939, a baby named Grace was born in Illinois. She would grow up to become Grace Slick, a future member of Jefferson Airplane and a prominent visual artist. Her painting career is marked by a particular series of paintings that showcase the Alice in Wonderland journey. There was also an Alice theme to the songs she brought to Jefferson Airplane, including her legendary “White Rabbit” song which was laden with drug references.
The refrain is “go ask Alice,” and the lyrics mention several plot points in the popular children’s book series:
One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall
And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call
He called Alice, when she was just small
When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low
Some of Slick’s more well-known works are psychedelic portraits of other musicians. But her Alice paintings portray a trippy and almost cartoony version of scenes from Alice in Wonderland. Mushrooms feature heavily in Slick’s paintings, likely because of their connection to psychedelics. Her best selling works are a “color series entitled “Monterey” that amid the crowd is Alice balancing a white rabbit on her head.”
When she retired from rock and roll in 1989, Slick became a full-time artist. She continues to show in galleries around the world. Slick has carved out a legacy for herself as an independent female artist in an era when male artists took up most of the space in rock music. Much of her work honors the women artists who came before her and inspired her, including Janis Joplin.