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For centuries, women around the world have made dolls as toys for their children. Using buttons, wool, rags, and thread, they have created unique, stylized individuals, each expressing a distinctive character, personality, or expression, and each representing a standard of beauty reflective of the maker’s culture.

For many years in my extensive travels I have collected handmade fabric dolls from all parts of the globe. They appeal to me because they are both playthings and powerful icons—authentic objects made for use. They are made with integrity of both materials and form. They speak to women’s lives and their connections to each other. When a mother makes a doll as a toy for her child, it is an expression of her love as well as her perception of the female’s place in society. It may be a doll fashioned after a specific person; it may be a fairy-tale doll. In any case, the creator of a doll is revealing much about herself in the context of her larger culture.

Unfortunately, in recent years—even in the most remote places on Earth—handmade dolls have started to disappear. Modernization has introduced mass-produced plastic and rubber-stamped generic images. Both the expression of the handmade object and the culture it represents are being homogenized. Today’s watered-down versions have become “ethnic” multi-toned Barbies in cross-cultural clothing.

For the last thirty years my work has dealt with the roles of women in contemporary society. This work has evolved from single sculptures to installations of as many as 175 pieces. Because of America’s obsession with beauty and my own interest in the issues of beauty and women’s self perceptions, I have developed this complex installation of dolls from over eighty countries from all corners of the earth. Included are dolls created by contemporary artists and “found” dolls by unknown makers. The juxtaposition of the old and new can inspire and inform our perceptions of cultural beauty. And, in our media- obsessed world, where personalities of the week get more news time than starvation and war, the handmade doll seems to evoke not only a simpler time but a time more in tune with what is truly important.

I hope the exhibition evidences the importance of these handmade figures in their ability to reveal both the private and communal expressions of women of many cultures. This is part of my larger and ongoing goal to capture what is left of individual cultures as we evolve into one global culture.

- Claudia DeMonte

2005-Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, La
2006-University of Maryland, College Park, Md.
Women's Art Gallery, YWCA, Cincinnati, Ohio
2007-Makan, Amman, Jordan
-University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
-Kasser Gallery. Columbia University, New York
- Okaloosa Walton Art Center, Florida



(Cecilia Mandrile)

(Rana Bishara)



1. AFGHANISTAN: Muznah Khalil
2. ALGERIA: Fatiha Iguelmamen
3. ANTIGUA and BARBUDA: Heather Doram
4. ARGENTINA: Cecilia Mandrile
5. AUSTRALIA: Linda Johnson
6. AUSTRIA: Reingard Klingler
7. BAHRAIN: Fatima Fakhro
8. BANGLADESH: Tayeba Begum Lipi
9. BELARUS: Olga Krupenkova
10. BELIZE: Miss Philippa
11. BOLIVIA* (2):-Teresa Camacho-Hull/ Alejandra Andrade
12. BOSNIA: Marija Dujmovic
13. CAMBODIA: Thoeung Mim Montgomery
14. COSTA RICA: Marite Vidales
15. CROATIA: Sonja Vuk
16. CYPRUS: Marlen Carletidou
18. ECUADOR: Rommy E. Struve
19. EL SALVADOR: Karlisima
20. ENGLAND: Pat Derrick
21. FINLAND: Tuire Lampila
22. GAMBIA, The: Ruth H. Ajola Carrol
23. GERMANY: Petra Ellert
24. ICELAND: Soffia Saemundsdottir
25. IRAQ: Ola Majeed
26. IRAN: Negar Pooya
27. JORDAN: Janset Shami
28. KENYA: Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga
29. KOREA* (south): Sumita Kim
30. KUWAIT: Thuraya Al-Baqsami
31. LIECHTENSTEIN: Beatrice Kaufman
32. LUXEMBOURG: Yvonne Rodesch + Heftrich Adèle
33. MACEDONIA: Sonja Dimovska.
34. MALI: Sissoko Sira
35. MAURITIUS:Neermala Luckeenarain
36. MOZAMBIQUE: Maria Regina
37. NETHERLANDS, The : Klara Kuiper
38. NEW ZEALAND: Barbara Bailey
39. NIGERIA: Chris Funke Ifeta
40. PALESTINE: Rana Bishara
41. PORTUGAL: Luisa Menano
42. SAMOA: Momoe Malietoa von Reiche
43. SCOTLAND* (2): Helen Graham/ Dawn Gavin
44. SEYCHELLES: Christine Lucie Chetty
45. SINGAPORE: Noni Kaur
46. TURKEY: Ferhan Taylan Erder
47. UKRAINE: Katia Kornicychuck
48. VENEZUELA: Aurora Rincon


And with grateful appreciation to the unknown makers of the world!

New Zealand
(Barbara Bailey)


(Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga)

Dawn Gavin

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