While exploring other cultures, reading, studying museum artifacts, I find beliefs, ideas, images that feel right. Sometimes I see something I’ve never seen before and I get this feeling like I’ve been there, lived there, known those people. Maybe it’s about the search for a family that will hold me the way I’ve never been held before. I feel like a spell is cast upon me in some of these environments.
The first time I was visiting the African Museum in Washington, D.C. I wandered in there with my little girl and my little sketchbook. We took the elevator to the underground level where we found many sculptures. The only light down there were lights directed on these sculptures. It was so dramatic, so peaceful, so quiet. I started drawing and could not stop for hours, not noticing that my feet were swollen and sore. My little girl was happy to spend as much time as she wanted going up and down the elevator. I wanted to stay there forever and felt like I was “home.”
When I got home, I began creating little fabric sculptures. I felt so lucky then to live in Los Angeles, where there were museums with all kinds of sculptures from Africa and other cultures that spoke to me. I think the best show was “Isn’t (S)he a Doll”, full of African dolls and stories of their purpose in daily life. I learned about African Art being a part of daily life. The idea that a spoon, a mask, a house, a doll is not only something that is used in daily life, but also something of great beauty just felt so right to me. The dolls had many functions. I continued to draw in museums and connect to all the figures that spoke to me.
plans for doll from African Beaded Sculpture
more plans from beaded African sculptures
Front and Back of Nigerian Doll with Braided Hair of Tar
I want to show you and talk about how I incorporated ideas from stories and sculptures into my work. I read about the Inuit culture and one belief that a human could transform to an animal and then back again felt so real and so full of magic, I had to create dolls about this idea. There were figures with fur, a beak, bird feet, a tail, in the process of moving into another world. I’m sure there are other worlds to be discovered.
I made up these dolls to express the beliefs I had read about. I found this wonderful face of a young Inuit boy in an old book and made a drawing to start the first doll. From that drawing, a carving and printing on fabric evolved.
photo of the carving here
Once I have a face I like, that leads me to the figure.
insert baby inuit and mom inuit here
Once I saw a Peruvian Chancay doll, like this one.
I read these little woven figures were made as toys but more often as burial figures, companions for the after life. I went crazy with this idea, drawing these dolls, making carvings, and making several dolls of my own based on this ancient work.
Here’s the First big one I made. As soon as I finished her, someone wanted to buy her, so I worked hard to create another one. I couldn’t part with her until I had another one, which looked nothing like the first one. But she was with me and she had a purpose.
Next one I think I’ll attempt weaving to make her.