Doll Therapy

“A doll is one of the most intimate expressions possible of the human spirit….a commentary on human society, the little world of dolldom reflecting the great, for everything that happens in the great world is reflected in the little. A dollographer, when he studies a doll, studies also people, a social scene; and sometimes there may be only a doll to tell the story.” Marguerite Young

The American novelist who scripted this quote was a doll collector and creative writing instructor. One of her students, Edward Swift, grew up around rag dolls lovingly made by his grandmother, but he confesses “they were something mysterious, not cute or precious.” His work in this exhibition, bundled paper-mache creatures that frolic, haunt, twist and turn, hint at the story of his relationship with those childhood dolls. Swift sees them as people bewildered by the complexities of life, yet with a sense of humor about their journey. Some seem to be waving a flag, others appear to sing; all are thought-provoking.

Multidisciplinary and experimental artist Gabriela Buenrostro Solórzano, known in San Miguel as Gaby Black, employs recycled materials such as discarded toys, doll parts and furniture. Embellished and swaddled with yarn, baubles and beads, her hybrid babies are highly textured and colorful. Inspired by natural and organic forms, Black’s work is infused with a sense of the unknown, unexpected and unexplained.

A member of Philadelphia’s Dumpster Divers, Ellen Benson says “I look at a bottlecap on the street and see a little hat; my old paintbrushes look like legs.” Her doll people incorporate plastic bags, recycled paper, old doll clothes, toys and other found objects. A natural born storyteller, she sees cigar boxes as houses in which to create a narrative. Benson has a
goal of creating 1000 figures; she’s made about 600 so far.

When asked “why dolls?’, Carole Clement proclaims “because I can!” Her dolls, as in her other art, tell her what they want. Some require lengthy layering while others want to be kissed fast and furious. Her work is an attempt to uncover, tame and embrace the spirit of those dolls with mindfulness and nonattachment. Like a midwife, she’s there to listen, massage, or get out of the way so that their mystery can unfold.

La Huipilista Artspace owner and director Lena Bartula repurposes Barbie dolls for this exhibition. “She’s a blank canvas, open to endless possibilities, ready for visual messages different from the ones given to the children who collect her and dress her up.” Barbie has grown up somewhat since she was invented, but the perfection and proportions still convey an impossible ideal. Bartula’s dolls, like her other work, play in the realm of social, political and commentary. All the dolls in this exhibition will be for sale, and the show continues through January 9, 2018. 

La Huipilista Artspace is participating in Guadalup/Arte December Art Crawl on December 9th.
Participating venues will provide maps of locations and times of events.

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Doll Therapy
GuadalupArte Art Crawl
Exhibition Opening:
Saturday, Dec. 9, 4-7 pm

Invited artists:
Gaby Black, Ellen Benson, Edward Swift, Carole Clement and owner/director, Lena Bartula

La Huipilista Artspace, Julián Carrillo 1, Col. Guadalupe
Lena Bartula, lenabartula@gmail.com

GuadalupArte Art Crawl - more information

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Lena Bartula has been a visual artist for more than thirty-five years. Her conceptual works include installation, mixed media and collaborative community projects. Her poems, essays and short stories have appeared in Nimrod International Journal, Dry Ground: Writing the Desert Southwest and Foreign Ground: Travelers' Tales, San Miguel Authors' Sala Anthology, Zingology and Dream Network Journal. Since 2004, Bartula makes her home in Mexico, and currently in San Miguel de Allende.

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