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 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.
Today I went to check out Sheri Debow’s new solo show in New York called “Let Us Weather The Storm Together”. It was at the Metropolitan National Bank in midtown of all places, her sister works there and likes to have unconventional shows for her customers. This was the first time that I’ve ever been to one of Sheri’s solo shows and all I can say is wow. It was like walking into a dolly heaven being surrounded by all of her little twisty creations. The facial expressions, clothing and accompanying paintings were just amazing. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I love how she carries her style through every platform whether its painting or sculpting.
You can see the rest of the photos in my Facebook album here:
Harlem Doll and gift show 12-6pm
And then … MF Gallery 7-10pm
I had prepared for the 8th for about two months, and it has come and gone. I had two shows scheduled, one at a gallery which I just needed to show up to and the other at the Harlem doll and gift show where I had to man a table for six hours. I have never done a craft show, so I really didn’t have a clue on how to prepare. All I knew was that I was going to be given a table and that I needed to put stuff on it, which I didn’t have much of. Since I don’t make dolls as frequently as I should, I had quite a few sleepless nights leading up to that day. I didn’t make as many dolls as I wanted to, so I decided to focus on decorating my table with promotional items and other crafts like earrings and hats. Getting there was a nightmare, public transportation is the worst. I took the bus all the way to the train station only to find out that my train wasn’t going downtown, so I took a different train only to get out and catch a cab. This left me all of 15 minutes to set up my table. I just wanted to crawl into a corner, hold myself and cry. In a frenzy, I pulled it off and was pretty happy with the outcome. I met quite a few interesting people there, one in particular stood out to me which I had the pleasure to be stationed next to for the whole day. Her name was Shirley Nigro, and she had a massive collection of dolls. They were all handmade by her and each one was unique in its own way. They ranged in sizes, styles and expressions. She had to have over two hundred dolls with her, which made my table of twelve look like left overs. By five thirty, I had to start packing so that I could make it to the other show which started at seven, in Brooklyn. The craft show was all the way in Harlem and I still needed to drop my things off at home. Needless to say, I was late to the opening. When I got there, I was surprised to see to see a handful of friends, some old and some new. I even got a chance to speak to some of the other artists that I’ve shown with in the previous year’s show there. Last year the gallery took one doll for the show but this time they accepted three. So exciting! Overall it was a great day, famished, and exhausted as I was. Would I double book again? Maybe if I get a car :)