Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Lankton is a huge inspiration for me as a doll artist and I was really delighted to have the opportunity to see the retrospective this month at Participant Gallery.

Her life is just as fascinating as her work and I so appreciated that the curators reflected the importance of both in the exhibition. The center of the gallery held the collection of doll work in acrylic cases so you could examine them from every possible angle (thank you curators!!!). Surrounding the work were gorgeous fashion photos of Lankton – the way she wants us to see her, combined with horrific and very intimate sketchbook tear sheets about the process of sexual reassignment surgery, and 2 small video installations: one hilariously frivolous, the other incredibly dark and imbued with a heavy political sentiment.

My favorite touch were the curio cabinets that lined the back walls, filled with mementos from her life.

Greer Lankton Wiki
New York Times review of the show


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I am obsessed.

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Bread and Puppet

I have a confession to make: I have lived in Vermont for 19 years and I have never seen a Bread and Puppet performance (which is positively shameful considering that they are top 5 in a long list of important visual inspirations for me). This summer I made it there.

The museum was my favorite place – an old Vermont hay barn filled to the rafters with hundreds of puppets, mixed media installations, sketches and paintings, covering the legacy of the troupe.

The puppets on the second floor are as tall as the haybarn. Do not forget to look UP when visiting the museum.

(Click the thumbnail for larger images)

After the museum we shuffled back to the ampi-theatre (a bowl shaped rolling green shown behind the stilted gentleman below) and wandered around from sideshow to sideshow. These shows happen at the top of the verdant “bowl”:


People kept telling us to go into the woods. The way they were phrasing it, I was certain that we were going to encounter an unexpected zombie attack. But that was not the case. What lives in the woods is a touching memorial to all of the people who have worked for Bread and Puppet Theatre and have died. Each artist has their own little structure, like a teeny house, which serves as an effigy.



The “Nothing Is Not Ready Circus” takes place in the grassy amphitheater, in front of a school bus, and comes with a strong Marxist political viewpoint that feels very old world at first but then ties in to current events. It is very Vermonty and liberal so if you have terribly conservative friends or family members, this may not be the event for you.


Afterwards there is a performance art piece called “Pageantry” that takes place in an adjacent field. It is far more abstract than the circus, very slow moving and beautiful. The way the artists use the landscape to enhance the scope of the performance is amazing. The performance I saw was about the recent tensions in the Gaza strip.

The show commences with its namesake: slices of hearty bread, smothered in a yummy garlic, olive oil and lemon juice dressing called “aioli”. Served for free and encouraged to share.

“The name Bread & Puppet is derived from the theater’s practice of sharing its own fresh bread, served for free with aioli, with the audience of each performance as a means of creating community, and from its central principle that art should be as basic to life as bread.” (wiki)

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People often ask what is the inspiration behind my work… one random example. Enjoy!


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I am completely obsessed with this artist right now. Linde Ivimey, I love you!

She uses a LOT of bones in her work, as well as an almost obsessive savoring of fabrics and objects that have sentimental value that she transforms into magical creatures. She WEAVES bones. Yup, she actually weaves vertebrae together to form a decorative armor or shroud for her figures. Some of her figures are whimsical and some feel very dark – almost like voodoo dolls or fetishes.

I knew she had to be a kindred spirit when I saw that in her studio she has orderly boxes of teeth and hair. And I am really fascinated by the fact that her figures are full of so much personality yet they have no faces. As someone who focuses on the face and can sometimes forget the rest, I feel like I want to do a few exercises like that. I tried that type of experiment a year or two ago with some of my wire dolls but they were more sculptural and cold.

Visit Linde online: www.lindeivimey.com.au/

A great video about this body of work:

Some samples of her creations:

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I just got back from a whirlwind trip to NYC to catch the Brothers Quay exhibit before it disappeared. We saw it on the 5th. It came down on the 7th.

The Brothers Quay were a huge inspiration to me when I first started making dolls. When asked, I often say that Japanese doll artists were my inspiration, but the Brothers Quay and Jan Švankmajer fall in line quickly as a second and are probably a more important influence because of the context of their work.

Being a fan of their puppets and stop motion, seeing their exhibit at the MOMA was profound. I walked away with a greater understanding of the Quays as, not only stop motion animators, but as extremely versatile artists.

So a few highlights of what I really adored about the exhibit:

  • The color of the walls and lighting. I know it seems silly but I recently had a conversation with a painter about the white wall trend in museums and galleries, his opinion was that white walls don’t flatter most work. I have to be honest, the color of gallery walls never occurred to me, but it was fresh on my mind when I walked into the Quay exhibit. The walls were painted dark grey and there was no strong overhead light, everything was spot lit. It was so atmospheric and fitting for the style of the Quays but really – hats off to the curators who had to find a way to incorporate films – which need darkness to enjoy them – and light – to enjoy the exhibit. It was easy to move between the films and the artwork.

  • I adored the sentimental touches. They made a display of the more personal objects in their studio: the Polish posters that they wallpapered their first studio with and would strongly influence their style.

  • A new understanding and appreciation for their stop motion film “In Absentia“. “A seated woman, alone… in a room on one of the top floors of an asylum, repeatedly writes on a piece of paper and sharpens pencils. The pencil point often breaks under her fingers’ force. She places the broken points outside the window on the sill. A satanic figure is somewhere nearby, animated and made of straw or clay, not flesh… She finishes her writing, tears the paper from the pad, folds it, places it in an envelope, and slips it through a slot that contains many more letters.” (wiki). The letters simply contain the words “Sweetheart Come” written over and over itself until it is almost illegible. The woman was Emma Hauck, a real woman diagnosed with dementia praecox in the late 1800’s. In the exhibit was the actual letter (which really did look like neat but demented scribbling) and photographs of the woman and the husband that the letters were addressed to.

  • An introduction to all of their sooty black, detailed illustrations and graphic design work for books and albums

  • The bunny and doll from the His Name is Alive music video “Are We Still Married” that the brothers directed.

  • We got to the MOMA on Friday evening and didn’t realize that between 4 and 8pm on Friday nights admission is free (sponsored by Target). Getting in free is AWESOME but our time frame to see the exhibit was short and the line to get in wrapped entirely around the building. So we stood in line for a half hour or more when we would have just as happily paid to get in. Closing time at the MOMA was like rats trying to scurry from a burning building. It was kind of crazy (shown above are the escalators filled with people trying to simply leave).

    Because of the crunch of people, the attendants were everywhere, constantly moving amongst us saying “No pictures! No pictures!” There was no choice but to obey. Luckily other folks were able to visit when the environment was less intense and they got some great shots of the exhibit. If you are on Pinterest, feel free to follow my “Brothers Quay” board where I have a collection of interviews, great shots of the exhibit, and video clips:


    Good way to start 2013!

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Really cool photos that Leslie Fry shot after I finished casting various things into some more molds we made. Shown in the photos are translucent resin, plaster, rubber, and plastic.

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