Dolls are a keeper of secrets. Children whisper both their joys and troubled secrets to these treasured figures, revealing a part of themselves of which even their parents might not be aware. This exposure of the inner soul is compelling, a means of discovering who a person is, what makes them tick, how past and present experiences shape them.
Several years ago, I worked with a student who, like her own doll, was happy and untroubled, yet underneath the artificial exterior, she hid a dark secret of abuse. To connect with her, I asked to X-ray her doll in hopes of unveiling her past and understanding her essence.
In this body of work, the doll is a metaphor for the inner beauty that resides within each of us. I’ve always harbored a curiosity for what lies beneath the surface. The hidden mechanics inside the doll that keep it together, the nails, pins, wires, computers, tubes, magnets, and sometimes even stray eyeballs that fell inside of the doll during manufacturing, fascinate me. It’s never the pretty façade that draws me in; it’s exposing all of the intricate jewels within that excites me.
We may get an initial impression of a person when we meet them, but they’re never fully transparent. Instead, they are merely translucent. We may have a sense of their inner self, but we’re lacking details and distracted by plastic superficiality. We don’t get the full picture until we dig deeper, much deeper.
Since the first X-ray, I have continued to seek out other people’s dolls not only to explore the mechanics of these items but also as a bridge to connect with the owner of the doll. I’m fascinated by the intricacies, by the hidden gems, by the subtle revelations to keep seeking, keep questioning, keep guessing. My own opacity is softened with each exposed image that allows me to reflect a part of myself in another’s journey.