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May 6, 2009 > Doll Show

Doll Show

By Mona Shah
Photos By William Mancebo

People tend to have preconceived notions of the craft of doll making and the inclusion of dolls in art. As a craft it has a huge following; there are doll clubs all over the world. Quite often they are based on textile art and "soft dolls". Some craft doll makers make a living from creating patterns for dolls that individuals can use as a base to work from, then embellish their dolls to add unique qualities. Olive Hyde Art Gallery's newest exhibit "The Doll Show" will be showcased this month.

Sandra Hemsworth, curator at the Olive Hyde Art Gallery, explains how she chooses the artists that eventually are selected to display their work. "As a curator I am more interested in diversity in the use of the dolls as an element of an art piece or as an icon or image to portray social commentary. That's why Nanette Wylde and Mary O'Brien's work fits into this show. At the same time, I'm interested in juxtaposing both worlds of 'The Doll' into the same show to illustrate where artists can go from the traditional or expected to more contemporary ideas."

One of the artist's exhibiting her work is Mary O'Brien. Her work is contemporary and titled "Body Count Babies." Mary O'Brien explains her inspiration, "This work was inspired by the lasting, and often unrecognized effect that war has on invaded countries. The civilian body counts for the Iraq War differ greatly. While reporting methodologies vary, controversy exists in the accuracy of the counts, with some accounting agencies addressing this challenge simply with resignation."

This work uses two familiar icons to tell this story--the familiar "baby doll" rendered lifeless and featureless, and the means used to transport the primary currency of this war, the US Mint canvas money bag. "I attempt to create social commentary with my art. I work primarily in ceramic sculpture and use icons and irony to explore the political questions and domestic issues of our day. My hope for my work is that it questions the viewer, as I question myself, and the world. Frequently political in nature, my sculptures often reflect the focus of an earlier career path in legal advocacy," O'Brien adds.

Nanette Wylde is one of the other artists who will be showing her work in the largest of the three spaces at the Gallery. Wylde explains her creative process, "A major aspect of my process is to interview people and incorporate their responses into artworks which celebrate human diversity. In part my intention is to create questions in the minds of my audience regarding their own experience; to expose people to a range of experiences, and ultimately to break down some of the barriers that cause people to fear difference."

For more information on the works of the artists, please visit http://www.fremont.gov/Art/OliveHydeArtGallery/default.htm.

Doll Show
May 1-30
Olive Hyde Art Gallery
123 Washington Blvd., Fremont
Thursday through Sunday
12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (during exhibition)
(510) 791-4357

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