I don’t often use this site for writing – I like the idea of art speaking for itself (or there’s the very real possibility that I’m just lazy). However, I’ve recently been stuck in a place where I can’t actually do too much art-ing, and my creative juices are overflowing. So I had to send my mind on this trip around the block, and guess what it ran into: paper dolls.
Paper dolls have a rich history in so many cultures. Like songs have been hummed since voices were found, and drawings have been etched out since cave walls and hands met, paper dolls have been present in our lives just as long as paper has been. From origami to vytynanky, to intricate shadow puppets and masks, paper dolls (of sorts) have been used for centuries as religious ceremonial figures, celebratory symbols, decorative art, and simple nineteenth and twentieth century entertainment. Today, rumor has it, children play with virtual paper dolls…which wouldn’t really make them paper dolls, would it?
And yet, there is a fascination with these simple toys – art forms, really – that is still holding us to this day, at least those of us old enough, or young enough, to remember. They have the potential to be beautiful, to be meaningful, to be whimsical and slightly – dare I say creepy? There’s a nostalgia about them, a familiarity, that draws us in. And their richness and warmth makes me want to embrace them and explore their potential with my current love of paper cutting – paper cutting, which was inspired by paper dolls in the first place.
Paper dolls have been with us for hundreds of years, and I want to introduce them to the next hundreds of years, or at least minutes, in my own way.