A Doll Is Not Necessarily Just a Pretty Plaything

Dolls are traditionally considered to be pretty playthings. As such, they are non-threatening, mere toys, used by children to act out their innocent fantasies.

Well . . . Margi Hennen makes dolls with such a wack-load of personality, you’d swear they were six feet tall. They evince the kinds of messages that cavort with your cranium, instigating such eruptions as a hearty guffaw or an expletive (“&$#@% ! That is so true!). Kristen Pauch-Nolin characterizes them as “subversive . . . . capable of inciting, reflection, dialogue and change.” See some of them here, and here. Pretty playthings? Hardly!

I am tempted to characterize these dolls as jesters. Wikipedia reminds us that “the court jester – precisely because anything he said was by definition “a jest” and “the uttering of a fool” – could speak frankly on controversial issues in a way in which anyone else would have been severely punished for . . . Still, even the jester was not entirely immune from punishment, and he needed to walk a thin line and exercise careful judgement in how far he might go – which required him to be far from a “fool” in the modern sense.”

A tip of the mock sceptre to Master Jester Hennen, who is far from a fool herself: her dolls are not made to play with. They play with you!

A number of years ago, I created a doll for a very personal reason. transcendent-face-small.jpgMy mother was experiencing a serious health concern. As an artist, my immediate response to life challenges is to explore them artistically. The result was a small doll: an art form I seldom utilize, but which brought me comfort. I felt that my love and concern were manifesting themselves as stitches. She (the doll) represents transcendence– transcendence of illness, pain, separation from loved ones. Stars, and the occasional moon (which I always think of as a feminine symbol) cover her body, indicative of heavenly realms.

transcendence-ex.jpgWhen I offered this doll to my mother, I told her the story of its making. I hoped she could embrace the willingness inherent in the doll’s outstretched arms and yearning face, to accept life’s offerings, no matter what the guise. Obviously, I was revealing the same message to myself.

My mother makes her home quite far from me. I am pleased to envision that she can cradle the doll in her hand and have an immediate sense that her daughter cares for her.

About CarolWiebe

Art entices, inspires, and delights me. Art is a vehicle for laughter, tears, wonder, enlightenment--taking me on a constant path of discovery. You can't say that about housework (except, perhaps, for the crying part).
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2 Responses to A Doll Is Not Necessarily Just a Pretty Plaything

  1. I didn’t love dolls as a child. I never really played with the baby dolls I received. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I discovered art dolls. I adore them. I don’t own many. I’ve made one. It is like taking the spiritual and folk art that I love and making them into a 3-D image.

    Your doll is lovely.

  2. Pingback: Three DYNAMIC women . . .wait, make that four! « Silverspring Studio

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