If you are an art quilter and find yourself stuck in the art/craft-which-is-it? vortex, can you even imagine the assumptions people have about doll makers? I have made a few dolls, but don’t think of myself as a dollmaker. Still, I have a fascination with them, being sometimes magical little effigies, sometimes alter egos, sometimes haunting and spooky and more often sweet and cloying. Think of all the “baggage” the whole concept of dolls carries, made even more cumbersome by feminist notions of whether little girls need to play with dolls, especially esteem damaging numbers like Barbie and her cohorts. So, with all this in mind I was hesitant to feature a doll artist here. I can hear June snorting frantically as I write this!
I became aware of Charla Khanna’s dolls a number of years ago. She does not have a web site, so I began saving images, in a folder, when I found them for the simple pleasure of being able to go back, from time to time to enjoy looking at them. I find them quite unsentimental, beautifully imagined and equally beautifully conceived. Like good art should, they seem to me filled with meaning and intention and crafted with joy. I was delighted to see a profile of her in the newest issue of Fiberarts magazine.
Here are a few of the images I have filched over several years:
You can see more images at the Jane Sauer Gallery site.
I’m not sure I have anything very profound to say about this work, except that it moves me in some way. I see it not as a child’s toy, but more like a small piece of sculpture that has that primitive appeal of the human form abstracted in a way that makes us both connect with and marvel at our level of self-recognition. I enjoyed this article about the gift of a Charla Khanna doll and the iconic status it took on in the recipient’s life.