Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weekly Article reviewed by Sally Hammel

Title: Feminist Artist Gives Porcelain Dolls An Awesomely Grotesque Makeover
Author: Priscilla Frank
Source: The Huffington Post

I looked up "controversial art" on the internet and found several articles linked from the Huffington Post. I'm not exactly sure where this magazine comes from (the site has links to NY, LA, and Detroit) but it seems to veer toward articles with shock value. I chose this article about Priscilla Frank because I remember these pretty little porcelain figures in my grandmother's cabinet when I was a child. I thought they were pretty and was curious about them but I never would have wanted to own them… they were too fragile for me. I really can't say that I like what the artist, Jessica Harrison, has done to these pieces either. She claims that she has altered these pieces in the name of feminism but I think they are just grotesque! If a man had made these pieces, noone would ever have called it feminism. Jessica Harrison says that we "all look alike on the inside" but she doesn't use any male figures to show this. Her idea of showing feminism is just not what I think of when I think of that term. I do find her alterations to what she calls her "broken" pieces unique and it is certainly a form of art, but it's just not my choice of art.

Priscilla Frank does not offer her opinion of the art in this article. She simply shows it to us and asks our opinion. She quotes the artist on several occasions but doesn't make any personal observations. This material is hard for me to look at but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the artist's ability to completely change the purpose and the feeling of these pieces. I too, am curious about the public's perception of this art. I definitely feel it is relevant to our Art History course. It's not really the blood & guts that gross me out, it's the fact that it is coming from these pieces that I remember with some fondness from my childhood.


  1. I love these representations of the porcelain dolls, but I can see why you wouldn't be fond of them, Sally. I think the position of feminism in the context of these dolls, are being manifested in their sweet expressions and costumes mixed with the violence and more "disgusting" side that women go through. What I think of when I look at the dolls, is the mental warping and internal discomfort and perhaps torture of fitting into those dresses, playing the part for the men that run the economic society, and losing the innate freedoms of being one's self and saying what is trully on one's mind. A woman's body is not an object, not just a pretty face and pose, and this artist is recapping that stance. I also think of Disney princess characters, and how they shaped my perception of growing up and having that goal of finding a man to marry and be beautiful the whole while through, as a child. There are parents today, that withdraw those same Disney films, with the intent to raise a child with the structure they more particularly respect, and that interests me a lot. These dolls did strike a cord with me, and due to my own artwork taking a more gruesome turn in context, and perhaps showing up that way visually someday, these pieces excite me with the effect they have on the viewer. Good find, Sally!

  2. The doll recreations are an awesome piece to demonstrate what is on the inside. I agree with Sally that the show would have been a better representation if she had included some male figures. Kids grow up playing with toys, and learning values from them. I like how the artist challenged the traditional traditional message of dolls, making them go more along the lines of action figures that are typically associated with boys, and masculine values. By altering such a mass produced toy, she was able to tap into the childhood of so many adults, and the values that they grew up with.

  3. I can appreciate the artist’s work and her fine detail to painting and intricate porcelain work, but I dont enjoy the work as a whole. As a kid I grew up around my grandparents in Tennessee who own an art gallery. At the gallery there were many porcelain dolls, around their house were more dolls and paintings of dolls in the girls bedrooms, for all my cousins and I to enjoy. I never liked the small figurines, they always had a old time creepy feel to them. I guess seeing these dolls converted into something grotesque just really puts the nail in the coffin as to my feeling of dislike in the first place. The artist’s work is interesting and unique its just not for me.