Call for Flip Dolls! In a February 2018 Exhibit, Revisioning the Flip Doll: Exploring Our Connections Artists and Makers Studios Artists and Makers hosts Revisioning the Flip Doll: Exploring Our Connections at the Parklawn Studio featuring work by Erika Cleveland and flip dolls created by women at the N. Street Homeless shelter as part of a series of workshops.
Cleveland received a Margaret Conant Grant in the Spring of 2016 from the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild, for her project “Revisioning Flip Dolls.” For this project she is creating her own flip dolls, teaching women at the N. Street Village Homeless shelter to make flip dolls and interviewing professional artists who make flip dolls.
Flip or “Topsy-turvy” dolls are two-sided dolls connected at the waist, and separated by a skirt. The skirt flips over to cover one side when the other side is revealed. The original flip dolls were black/white dolls made by slaves in the south during the Civil War era. In the words of flip doll artist Terri Dowell Dennis, they could be seen as “racist relic of the past.” In spite of their origin, many of these dolls were well loved by their owners and makers, who responded to the soft cloth bodies and enjoyed using the dolls for storytelling.
In this exhibit Cleveland would like to “revision” the flip doll as a way to show the commonalities within differences, and as a way of exploring the ways in which we are all united.
The challenge is to make a flip doll out of any materials you choose. Here are some suggestions to get you started. You can:
1. explore the commonalities within different ideas such as good/evil, war/peace, health/illness, dark/light, sun/moon, heaven/earth, sky/ocean, woman/man (though the doll also lends itself to multiple interpretations of gender as well. It is possible to have add another side to the face on each side or to add multiple dolls on each side)
2. consider the idea of the alter ego in your flip doll. One side could be how the world sees you and the other could be a secret self, or could reveal hidden strengths.
3. use the flip doll to tell a story as a way to connect elements from different parts of your life. For example, one woman at N. Street (see photo below) created a flip doll representing two different grandchildren from different parts of South America.
The possibilities are endless.
Please visit http://www.transformativehealingdolls.com to see more information about flip dolls, including interviews with professional artists who make flip dolls, and a video about the construction of a simple flip doll created out of wrapped sticks.
Show curated by Erika Cleveland and Heidi Moyer. Please see submission requirements below.
Here is link to her paper doll video https://www.facebook.com/Transformativehealingdolls/videos/516284725151736/
Show at the Torpedo Factory TAG Gallery-Studio 311
Below are the descriptions of the dolls in order of appearance in the video.
Lalita: The Lovely and Dangerous Fire Lalita is the Indian goddess who is a representation of Shakti, the opposite of destroyer, Kali but also wild like Kali. She embodies the feminine, the sensual and sexual. She represents union of opposites and sexual union, the union of various parts of the body and spirit, and the creative life force. The second part of her name, lovely and dangerous fire come from the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, The Windhover..”and the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion times told lovelier more dangerous, oh my chavalier….” He is talking about his experience of spiritual ecstasy in encountering Christ. Lalita is a human triptych in honor of the spiritual and sexual forces. She is vulnerable and open and strong. Powerful in fact. She is a sideways flip doll with a different body on each side.
Baba Yaga/Mother Earth, was inspired by the Russian folk tale of Baba Yaga, a fearsome witch who devours anyone who tries to enter her chicken-legged house in the woods. Traditionally, Baba Yaga wears the skulls of her victims. In this version, she is a healer. Instead of skulls, she is adorned with a life-giving tree from which twelve new souls are born. On her sleeves is the Russian symbol of “Moist Mother Earth,” representing the healing powers of nature. The only remnants of her dangerous origin are the wolves decorating her vest and the wolf/bear mask she wears. These elements show that Baba is still a force to be reckoned with. As in all her dolls, the artist uses the folk and fairy tales as a jumping off point and integrates them with her own stories and symbols.
Rhea, Mother Earth/Raina, Everywoman is an Empress, is a large-scale flip or topsy turvy doll. Flip dolls, two sided dolls, connected at the waist, originated during the Civil War era in the United States. Slave women sewed dolls with one white side and one black side. It is believed that they were preparing their daughters for a life where they would be caring for their own children as well as the slave owners’ white children. Flip dolls then evolved into a storytelling medium with characters telling opposing sides of the story. Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood were common examples.
One side of this doll is Rhea, a Roman mythological figure symbolizing Mother of the Gods, and in this case, representing Mother Earth. She has an image of the tree of life on her belly and twelve creatures, mythological and real. Her two consorts or guides sit on either of her shoulders.
On the other side is Raina, symbolizing everywoman, in her guise as an empress. Her guides or consorts sit on her shoulders. The mythological figures of griffins on either side of her heart also act as protective figures. The veins and arteries of the heart (on the Raina side) connect to the rivers and streams (on the Rhea side.) The doll as a whole symbolizes how as women we are deeply connected to the earth.
Galiana: Everywoman, The Veil that Reveals and Conceals A companion to Lalita, the veiled Galiana represents Everywoman, and suggests how we as women are all connected, but also how all women contain their own mystery, their own hidden truths. The veiled woman is inspired by the Veil of Isis, a metaphor for nature in which the veiled Goddess Isis represents the inaccessibility of nature’s secrets. Often the figure with the veiled head of Isis has a body with multiple breasts, representing Isis, Artemis or both Goddesses. In the late 1800’s the term, parting the veil was used to symbolize an entry into spiritual realms. This doll holds represents the way in which spiritual truth is available to all who allow themselves to be truly united in body, mind and spirit.
Good Habits/Bad Habits is a topsy turvy or flip doll. It takes 21 days to develop a new habitual way of behaving. Each doll has a pocket with a space for the name of the habit being worked on. To track the good or bad habit, you would first choose a habit to work on, then for each of the 21 days, snap the arm onto the belly until all 21 snaps are attached. At the end of the 21 days, you are on your way!