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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

This weekend I took a 2 day intensive workshop with one of my favorite local sculptors: Leslie Fry! It was a workshop to learn mold making and casting. I’ve been trying to learn more over the last year but it was time to hire a professional to tell me what the hell I am doing wrong.

She warned us that most of her casting students decide at the end of the workshop that they have no desire to ever touch the stuff again. As I learned, the process of creating a 3D mold of say, a doll head, is a long and tedious, enormously messy, task that creates a tremendous amount of waste. And after all of that work, you may not even have a mold worth using because of all of the things that can go wrong along the way. I found the process unbelievably laborious and messy but I haven’t given up. I honestly think that had a lot to do with the way Leslie taught the class.

Most of all I am excited about how mold making will open up opportunities to work with different materials. Last year I experimented with spray rubber, resin, plaster, chocolate, mold making, and plastics. I’m excited about using my dolls in different mediums that are not just cloth and clay any more.

I met some great women this weekend! There were 5 of us from all over Vermont and New York… and one a local senator. I was in the accompaniment of Kerin Rose, Erika Lawlor, Diane Snelling, and Christine Webster.

The workshop was held at Leslie’s studio. The photos below are from her many amazing creations – many of which are artfully arranged on her property and throughout her home and studio.

When I grow up I want a “sculpture garden” too!

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So I was wrong last week when I said that they were going to feature a doll collector on TLC. It is going to air THIS Sunday (the 21st). And to clear up any confusion, my dolls are not in the episode, I just wanted to share the info for those who are into creepy dolls.

Here is my original post with the press release

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Summer Reading

Someone on my Strange Dolls facebook page recommended that I pick up Gillian Flynn‘s book “Sharp Objects”. The description sounded pretty good (if you consider murdered children, a hateful mother, alcoholism and cutting “good” that is). I hadn’t read something inspiring for a while so I bought it.

I could NOT put the book down.

When I finished I picked up her other book “Dark Places”. She describes it as a book about “heavy metal, devil worship… and farming.”

Two home runs Gillian. Consider me a fan.

I feel like people who are into my Strange Dolls will like these books, they have a similar vibe in that Gillian Flynn and I are not afraid to show that women have a violent side. Not just a coy manipulative side or a cold, distant side, but a truly, child killing, self mutilating, blind fury, dark as night, side. She writes more about this topic in a letter to her readers on her website

Some people have said some of the themes in my dolls have a “masculine vibe”… or outright asked why I would spend time making such things. Well because I do. I have a compulsion to make things “like that.” And apparently Gillian Flynn does too.

Maybe that is why, despite the horrific scenery, I feel oddly at home with her writing style and her thought process. So if you love crime tales that go to truly dark and sensitive places, are full of suspense, and a real page turner, Miss Gillian Flynn is for you. Her books are my recommended summer reading.

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[via press release from TLC]

New TLC Special MY COLLECTION OBSESSION Premieres Sunday, August 21 at 10 PM ET

MY COLLECTION OBSESSION takes you deep inside the world of four of the country’s most obsessed collectors — each taking their material obsession to jaw-dropping extremes. The time they have spent searching, cleaning and maintaining their massive horde is only equaled to the thousands of dollars spent to acquire and display their prized possessions.

Darlene takes her love of shoes to a shocking extreme with over 15,000 shoe-related items. But will she take her shoe mania to new level? Kyle has been obsessed with his vacuum cleaner collection for ten years, but the biggest surprise about Kyle is that he is only 16-years-old! We join him on his hunt to acquire the ultimate addition to his prized collection. Marilyn has an impressive doll collection and even treats them as if they part of the family; washing, dressing and sometimes taking them to the playground. Harrell and Patrick’s three-floor home is filled from floor to ceiling with memorabilia of the Queen of Country, Dolly Parton. But little do they know, their obsession is about to get them the surprise of their life!

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It’s odd, I went out to photograph one of the dolls I just finished and when I found the perfect corner there was an old walker there. Theme of the day seems to be walkers and wheelchairs.

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This documentary about Butch Anthony further illustrates my experience in Mississippi last fall as I tried to define “Southern Art.” I discovered that “Southern Art” is folk art intertwined with modern art practices in the South. Quilt designs become graphic designs, food shapes inspire sculpture, and every day items like chairs and baskets become refined and reinvented into objects that you can use and revere. I think there are a lot of negative stereotypes about the South so I’m glad that the artwork that is being discovered is loved by all and may help change the attitude.

I’m looking forward to this documentary being on my monthly art movie list!

“Alabama-native and former taxidermist Butch Anthony gave Etsy a tour of the “Museum of Wonder” – his junk/art shop – and more importantly, his absolutely beautiful home. Never judge a book…”

And finally, to get in the mood for what I’m talking about, Chickasaw Mudd Puppies is a required listen. It is too bad they disappeared in the early 90’s, I loved them :


Speaking of my monthly art movie list. This was last night’s treat…

In the Realms of the Unreal
“This documentary tells the story of Henry Darger, a reclusive janitor by day with few — if any — friends, but by night a literary artist with a unique vision. Darger’s resulting 15,000-page epic is a wonderland of imagination as it details the exploits of seven angelic sisters who lead a rebellion against men who enslave children.”

Henry Darger

This is also, like the video above, the story of how artists take “garbage” and create meaningful, beautiful, desirable works of art with it. I guess the topic is on my mind recently because a lot of the things I have been using in my Apocalyptic dolls are recyclable items that people often donate to my studio. And next month at S.P.A.C.E. Gallery we will have a ’tile show’ that combines discarded tiles from work sites and children’s book illustrations that were rescued from the trash. Combine that with acrylic paint and a finish and you have an instant piece of art to hang on a wall or give as a gift. Or, as in the case of Henry Darger, you have a 15,000 page illustrated book.

The Tile Project, Art for the Masses
Opening Reception:
First Friday, May 6th 2011
5-9pm
S.P.A.C.E. Gallery
266 Pine Street, Suite 105
Burlington, VT 05401

Christy Mitchell

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I saw Jennifer Miller speak tonight at the Fleming Museum here in Burlington. She spoke about life in the sideshow at Coney Island, entertained us with her machete throwing, glass eating, and enchanted everyone. Most importantly she spoke about life as a woman with a beard and what that means – or doesn’t mean.

I was really surprised by how meaningful the evening was. I left feeling keenly aware of how unique she is – I mean aside from the obvious – but she’s willing to embrace everything that comes along with living as a woman with a beard and she does it with true grit, a really focused center of being, top notch self esteem, and a sense of fun about herself. She’s truly one of a kind.

Her newest project is developing Circus Amok:

“Circus Amok is a New York City based circus-theater company whose mission is to provide free public art addressing contemporary issues of social justice to the people of New York City. The group has been together since 1989 bringing its funny, queer, caustic and sexy, political one-ring spectacles to diverse neighborhoods from East New York to the East Village…Circus Amok performances prove that diverse audiences can join us in envisioning a more empowered life of community interaction while enjoying a queer celebratory spectacle. But most of all, Circus Amok brings a seventeen-act-in-59-minutes joyful extravaganza of acrobatic artistry, satiric skill, and good old-fashioned circus fun free to neighborhoods throughout New York City.”

I like the way she described in her talk tonight that Circus Amok is a way for so called “freaks” or the disabled can be a part of the community in a benign and thoughtful way. The more and more that those individuals are pushed into the shadows of society, the less we are able to see them and accept them into the fabric of society. I think that the less people are exposed to differences, the more fearful they are. And, well, I think it is well known what happens then. Circus Amok happens in parks and community gardens throughout New York City and provides a way for people to think about or talk about serious social issues in a environment that is safe for everyone – and well – provides hilarious entertainments. WHO doesn’t love the circus!

Fellow travelers, zealots and pantywaists of all ages, races, mental conditions, and unmentionable proclivities, untether your grasp on the known, swing cockeyed into the two faced and the double handed. feel the rumble tumble erupting from the depths of your unconscious, make a ruckus, run amokus, Help help it’s CIRCUS AMOK!!!!

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