The funny thing is, we didn't set out to become a group of collaborators. Originally my friend, Young An an amazing painter and curator, wanted to ensure that we have a girl's monthly soiree. The idea was that "girl's night" would be hosted at a different house every month, bring a dish of something yummy, wine (pivotal), etc. Pretty standard stuff with our crowd. We were just finally leaving our male counterparts at home with kids and laundry! Wooohooo!
Our first meeting was standard. Eat, drink, be merry and gossip, of course. At the end of the night we determined that I would play host at our next gathering the following month. Exit party.
Enter Art Doll Chronicles. This is the book I had been reading at the time about a collaborative, round-robin, doll-making project. I love dolls and puppets (which is why I purchased the book), but what I found most intriguing about the book and the project detailed within its pages was the collaborative process. I enjoyed reading about each artist's encounter with each of the dolls, their delights, their dismays, their creative processes, their journals and reflections. I got to thinking...WE could do something similar to this. How amazing would it be to have a bunch of traditional (this is relative) painters and sculptors make dolls???
So, I sent out an email to the group with party details AND project proposal. The responses ranged from "I don't have time for this" to "Wooohooo, I'm in". And so began "Hey Doll!".
The idea was to bring a doll starter and accompanying travel journal to our meeting. There were no guidelines as to what either of these items should be. As you might expect from a group of painters and sculptors, not all the doll starters were exactly, well, doll-like. We had doll starters that ranged from a razor scooter to three pristine 5" x 5" canvases to a web-like blob of dried acrylic paint right from the tube. Some of the journals were a bit nontraditional as well, i.e., scientific diagrams of the human eye and a portable camera. Alrightly then, let's get started!
Each meeting would consist of eating, drinking, being merry then down to business:
- Doll presentation - who did what to which doll that month.
- Oooohs and Aaaahs, then laughter.
- Everyone's names were put into a bowl for the drawing.
- Each participant would draw a name out of the bowl to see which doll would travel home with them.
- Photograph each doll at that particular stage.
- Determine next meeting place and time.
- More eating, drinking and being merry.
- Artists and dolls depart.
What I learned from this experience:
- "Hey Doll!" resulted in a level of commitment and quality of work and I am both astonished by and proud of.
- Each doll is so different from the another, yet stylistically consistent.
- Each doll found its voice at a different stage, yet each one yelled at the top of its lungs "I am here!" when the time was right.
- Damage and loss were relatively non-existent (an amazing feat considering each doll traveled to 13 studios and 2 gallery shows before journey's end).
- The process was contagious; even the nay-sayer(s) saw the doll starters and jumped in with their own doll starters the next meeting.
- I learned more about myself and my friends of 10 years by participating in this project than I could have otherwise.
- I drank more wine and laughed more deeply than I ever had at any of our "normal" parties.
- Collaboration is a term with which I am now intuitively familiar and innately comfortable with.
Eighteen months later. The dolls have been returned to their base artists. We have recovered from the gallery shows. The collaborative group has gotten a bit smaller (now 8 artists) and we move forward. Next project: Games! Who knows how these projects will "play out", but I do know that with this group, the games will be nothing short of amazing.
To see all of the dolls, check out our "needs to be finished" website (every website I work on or help with needs to be finished - remember I am html challenged).
Also, I want to thank everyone for their continued support and wonderful comments. I try to reply to everyone within a relatively short amount of time, but sometimes it takes me a little longer. I do however read each and every comment and I will reply eventually. You guys are awesome!