This paper traces the transformation of ethnology and interpretation in the work of artist Anne Eisner (Putnam) and anthropologist Colin Turnbull. Eisner, who made her home at the edge of the Ituri Forest of the former Belgian Congo (DRC) during the 1940s and 1950 and again in 1957-58, transcribed two hundred Mbuti Pygmy legends; Turnbull used these legends (in the case studied here, transformed one of them) to map an oppositional world view: the Mbuti Pygmy/Bira villager, forest/village, good mother/ bad mother. Eisner looks to crossovers and intersections rather than the polarizations of inclusion and exclusion presented by Turnbull. Her complex view of this society can be understood from her painting and comes out of her own situation as one of the "mothers," a woman, a Westerner, and a painter. What is at stake is the dialogue between the foreign and the familiar that creates differing interpretations, often blurring the line between observation and its transformation into writing or art.