The doll that I am now working on is going to be based off of Joyce Carol Vincent, a 38 year old woman that was found dead in her apartment after 3 years in the UK. She was laid out in front of her television (that was somehow still on) with Christmas gifts that she had wrapped around her. They couldn’t determine the cause of death since her body was so badly decomposed and they could only identify her by dental records. I have so many questions when I think of this story but my main one is who was she bringing gifts to and why didn’t they look for her when she didn’t show up for the holidays? I can’t stop thinking about how easy it was for her to not be missed by friends and family. In the documentary about the story called “Dreams of a Life”, one woman said she just thought she was off somewhere having a better life than she was. She didn’t do drugs or drink and everyone that was interviewed spoke very highly of her. How unfortunate, for this beautiful young woman to die alone as she did. It just makes me wonder if something like this could happen today with all of this technology that we have. “Dreams of a life” is on Netflix if you would like to know more about this tragic story.
I just came back from attending my first Niada conference. I have been checking out their work for few years, but I’ve never thought of actually going to a conference before. They are very particular with the kind of doll artists that they let join their group and since I like to work in a really unconventional style, I didn’t think that I would fit in. After working in the Bronx Artists Documentary Project, I actually met a member named Reina Mia Brill. She knew that I made dolls and she thought it would be a good idea if we both went down together. We had a blast! I really enjoyed myself because it was my first time being surrounded by so many doll artists and it was a great opportunity to actually see the work in person. The pieces were very impressive, it really inspired me to go home and start creating some new pieces. I have my hands tied at the moment and have to crank some work out for a different show. When I get done with my current pieces, I am going to have a field day!
This Saturday will be my first time showing at the Bronx Art Space which is located in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. I dropped off a few pieces there yesterday and was able to get a peek at some of the other artwork that will be featured. It really blew my mind, there were so many wonderful and interesting pieces and most of them will be under $300. I am super excited to be a part of this show. I was surprised to see some of the names on the bill, I’m honored to be able to participate in the same show as them!
This has proven to be one busy summer for me. I originally had two shows scheduled in September, one being the BXADP show and the other being my first two person show at the ISE Cultural Center in Soho. This current Spoof Collective show in addition to two more this August will make six shows in four months for me. I am really feeling the love! Here’s some photos from the Spoof Collective show at Hunts Point. It will be on up until August 8th every Saturday from 3-6pm at The Brick House Gallery 1391 Lafayette Avenue, Bronx NY 10474. Photos courtesy of Ignacio Soltero, who is also featured in the show.
I have to say that the Northside Festival was my most challenging event by far! The Artist Chain Reaction at The Andrew Freedman home was pretty tough being that it was my first time creating a sculpture of almost 4 feet tall, but this time I had to create a few more in less than three weeks for an outdoor event.
One of my biggest challenges was to figure out the best way to build a standing base for my work that was able to withstand wind and the crowds. I’ve never built anything to handle being outside in the elements, so this would be another first for me. I originally thought that wood would work but I needed it to be heavy so that the sculptures wouldn’t tip over from heavy wind or people interacting with them. I immediately thought I should use wooden pallets but realized that they wouldn’t be practical since I didn’t have a car to transport them. I took a few trips to Home Depot to see what I could find instead. I was lucky enough to find 2’x2′ flat wood panels that had the right amount of weight and was easy to load onto a small hand truck. I also found wooden posts there to drill into the panels to create a standing base.
The other thing that I had to worry about was the weather, it rained everyday that week and being that it was a rain or shine event, I still had to deliver. I struggled with the idea of what to do if it rained. I brought some Rain Guard protective coating to water proof the pieces but that wouldn’t do anything to protect the clothing and the hair that I use on my work. I wasn’t sure if there would be a reaction with the coating and the clay that I use so I decided to go without it. I brought clear recycling bags and hoped that I didn’t have to tacky up my work and use them.
The day of the Northside Festival turned out to be just beautiful! It was the first nice, sunny and warm day that we had in over a week and everyone was out to enjoy it. All of the things that I worried about like the base, if I was going to finish my pieces in time, and the weather panned out just fine. None of my pieces fell over and everyone seemed to be enjoying and interacting with my work. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside that day!
The Artist Chain Reaction competition was an event where two artists who never worked together before were paired up to create an installation over the course of 5 days. It took place at the lovely Andrew Freedman Home on the Grand Councorse in the Bronx during Armory Week.
I initially saw the open call for this competition about a few weeks beforehand and thought to myself that I would be in over my head if I participated in it. At the time I was working in small scale roughly under 18 inches, so I couldn’t even begin to imagine how my work would translate into anything larger. After reading the open call, I immediately closed the web page and looked for another call that I would be better suited for. A few days later a funny thing happened, I received the open call in my inbox from Jeanine Alferi. At this point I figured this was a sign that I should at least submit my work, so I grabbed the biggest piece that I had at the time, took some great shots of it and wished for the best. About a few days later I received an email from Jeanine notifying me that I was chosen to participate. I thought “Wow, how awesome is this, I’m so excited. … wait how the hell am I going to pull this off?”
I panicked but quickly began to strategize and it immediately came to me that I needed to use chicken wire and paper mache. I worked with chicken wire for a whole semester in college building project after project with it because of its strength and flexibility. The idea of using paper mache to bulk up the frame was great because it cuts down on the amount of clay that I’d have to use, making it a quicker drying, lightweight and cost efficient sculpture.
After I figured out how to handle creating the body I had to tackle the one thing that I have been avoiding all my life, the sewing machine. Anyone that knows me is well aware of my on going battle that I’ve had with using a sewing machine. I can’t thread them for my life, I usually get my mom to do it for me but she was in the far away land called Brooklyn. I’ve had a few lucky tries in the past where I’d get a few pieces done only to see it snag the material of another piece. This time I was determined and I knew that I didn’t have time to play around, I had to get this done. After taking a good look at the machine to figure out my plan of attack it began to dawn on me. I needed to run the thread through the tension discs in order for the stitch to be tight. This was something I knew but never seemed to master. I went on to YouTube to see exactly how the thread should be ran through it and vuala, that solved everything. I called my mom to tell her I did it all by myself this time :).
After getting the outfit sewn, everything else began to fall into place. I put the hair on which was a wig that I had laying around and I was able to make her stand by manipulating the chicken wire underneath her dress. I made her into a half tree half person. The story behind it came from a recent experience that my partner in the competition had went through. She was recently evicted from her home in the Bronx and she had to move to Brooklyn with her family. She said that every thing that she ever knew and was familiar to her was in the Bronx. So I decided to represent her by making a tree with the roots exposed to show how she was uprooted from her home and surroundings.
Overall it was a wonderful experience and it challenged me to take my work to another level. I just wish that I had more space at home to continue working in this size:)
So here’s how Joyce turned out. In the process of creating this doll, I heavily relied on how she was portrayed in the documentary about her. Her character was dressed in blue throughout the whole movie, so I chose to to do the same with the doll. I decided to go with the hair style that the real Joyce had in her photos, the character that portrayed her had too many to choose from. Since she was surrounded by gifts when they found her, I decided to have her hold one to symbolize the gift of life. It’s so unfortunate that her life ended the way that it did, this may be the first of many that I create of or about her.
I had a wonderful time sharing some of my techniques with my dear friends at The Edgar Allan Poe Visitor’s Center in The Bronx. I really enjoyed seeing the creations that everyone came up with. Hopefully I will be able to conduct another workshop like this sometime in the future, I would have a better idea of how to prepare for the second time around!
Here is a late update from my last two shows, one was at MF Gallery in Brooklyn and the other was SpaceWomb in Long Island City. The show at SpaceWomb was so last second that I had to snatch up some dolls from my shelf, but I was very thankful to be invited. It’s conveniently located across from MoMA PS1 and the opening fell on the same night as their annual warm up event. It was surprisingly quiet considering the amount of foot traffic happening at MoMA, I guess we needed party music and more drinks to compete with them. In contrast, the opening at MF Gallery was very lively as usual with a few familiar faces from my previous job at SourceMedia. We had a blast, Frank and Martina always have a great turnout! I must thank Frank for taking the photo of me, he always catches me at my best.
I am so excited about this weekend. This Saturday, June 8th will be MF Gallery’s big 10th anniversary extravaganza show. I will have the pieces shown above in it, and this will mark my 7th Gallery showing. All of the pieces will be priced at $100, so I might actually sell something for once, lol! I haven’t been focusing on selling my dolls, I just create and hoard them. Hopefully I’ll break out of this habit soon, I’m beginning to run out of space. It’s kind of hard to let go of something you spend so much time on, especially when you start making outfits to put on them. Well anywho, with the above pieces they all seem to have one thing in common, and that’s confinement. It wasn’t intentional, it just turned out that way. It all started with an Archer’s iced coffee. After drinking it I realized that the label can be pulled off of the bottle clean. I then held on to it with intentions of making a doll small enough to fit inside of it. With me being obsessed with air plants at the time, I decided to make some sort of doll terrarium, so I put peat moss and flowers in with her. The second one was the doll in the frame. I had a few sea shells around so I decided to use them as some sort of horns for her head. I already had a frame that I planned on putting her in ahead of time. The last one was directly inspired from the Beatle’s Octopus’ Garden. I was listening to the song while re-potting my orchids and started thinking of the lyrics and how silly it was for an octopus to have a garden. After a quick Google search I realized that they actually do have gardens that they make out of rocks and shells that they collect. I decided to play with the idea and have an octopus with a flower garden as I and I’m sure many other’s have envisioned after hearing the song. I painted him on the side of the pot picking a flower. The show will be on Saturday June 8th at 213 Bond st, Brooklyn N.Y., from 7-10pm.