A New Dimension To An Old Children’s Classic

Apr 9, 2019, 9:57 PM | Updated: 10:48 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Jorgen Madsen, in his first year of medical school and in the midst of a personal crisis, turned to an unlikely source of help…  Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He ended up with a new identity and an intricate, three-dimensional piece of literary art.

When he was 13, Madsen, who grew up in small town Utah, realized he was different than most of his peers.

“I knew that I was gay since about the age of 13. But I thought it was a phase I thought it would go away,” he says.

“As a kid, I think I struggled a lot with depression growing up because of it,” he says. “I always thought that I was this evil, bad person, because I had this bad secret.”

Jorgen Madsen works on a book sculpture

Jorgen Madsen works on a book sculpture

He kept his sexual orientation hidden until his first year at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He wrestled with whether to come out.

At the time, he’d watched a movie, “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl,” featuring a book sculpture — a book carved into a piece of art.

“I thought it was the coolest thing,” he says and he picked up a book — Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” — and with his dissection tools, started cutting.

A therapist suggested the book art might serve as more than a hobby. It might help him process his thoughts and feelings about his sexual identity.

Carroll’s story, many have said, is really about a girl growing up and searching for identity.

So, Madsen pulled out quotes from the book, literally cut them out, and, over three or four months, created an elaborate sculpture that’s about more than a girl named Alice.

Alice talking to the Cheshire Cat

Alice talking to the Cheshire Cat

“’I could tell you my adventures,” Alice says to the Mock Turtle and Gryphon, “but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

“This book” Madsen says, “talks about being different from who you were yesterday, or even this morning, and how life is constantly changing, and you need to move forward.”

“Nothing’s quite as it seems. And sometimes you just have to kind of move forward and sometimes it’s scary, but it’s exciting.”

‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ Alice asks the Cheshire Cat. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” the cat says.

“I didn’t know which path to pick. And then I had finally asked myself, what what do I want it? Where do I want to end up?” Madsen says.

Madsen ended up out.

“To me, it’s better to live honest than to live a lie,” he says.

Sculpture inspired by Tom Sawyer

Sculpture inspired by Tom Sawyer

He now volunteers at Encircle — an LGBTQ youth and family resource center, the Homeless Youth Resource Center and the PrEP clinic he helped establish. It distributes a medicine that prevents the spread of HIV.

“I felt like I could live quietly and, you know, maybe be more comfortable that way” he says. “Or I could try to make a difference.“

And occasionally Madsen, who soon graduates from medical school and moves on to a residency in pediatrics, creates a new book sculpture.

In one sculpture Peter Pan and Wendy Darling float high above the classic “Peter Pan.”

“What if I fall?” Wendy asks.

“But oh, my darling,” Peter says, “What if you fly?”

Jorgen Madsen fell down a rabbit hole and came out, he says, feeling just fine.

“While I’ve changed and chose paths, I actually for the first time in my life, feel like I’m not a bad person,” he says.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

The Utah Senate on March 1, 2024....

Lindsay Aerts

Final day of 2024 legislative session saw billions in funding and a move to ban pride flags

The final day of Utah’s 2024 legislature saw over 100 bills passed, involving funding for downtown, social media restrictions for minors, and a $29.4 billion budget.

8 hours ago

Cache County Clerk David Benson addresses a crowd regarding election law violations. (Mike Anderson...

Mike Anderson

Cache County Clerk addresses office election law violations

Cache County Clerk David Benson answered questions from the media and local voters about findings of numerous election law violations in his office.

9 hours ago

Pair of handcuffs on a black bacthroom...

Alexander Campbell

Washington County man calls police on self, gets arrested for stolen firearms

A teenager is off the streets after calling in to St. George Police and giving them his approximate location Friday, leading to a guns-drawn arrest.

10 hours ago

Two victims in a Hit-and-run in Sugarhouse speak to KSL News on Friday. (Emma Benson, KSL News)...

Emma Benson

Sugarhouse hit and run victims speak out

Two Sugarhouse women are speaking out after they were involved in a hit-and-run.

12 hours ago

Toyota passenger car that was involved in a fatal crash on Friday. (Utah Highway Patrol)...

Alexander Campbell

South Jordan crash results in one fatality, closes I-15 on ramp

Interstate 15 is closed at 11400 South while Utah Highway Patrol investigates a fatal crash on Friday.

12 hours ago

SLCPD officers pulling the the man off the parking garage ledge. (The Salt Lake City Police Departm...

Alex Cabrero

Body cam video shows police officers save man’s life during mental health crisis

Many people who live or work in downtown Salt Lake City often have very normal days. 

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

A New Dimension To An Old Children’s Classic