Art dolls fabricated by contemporary artists are the focus of a unique exhibition called "Art of the Doll: Protection, Healing, Power, and Play" that has been curated by SSU Psychology Professor Geri Olson.
The exhibition runs through Sept. 19 and has been drawing unusually large crowds to its workshops and gallery at the Petaluma Art Gallery on Lakeville Highway.
With 27 invited artists and 33 juried artists, this exhibition provides an incredibly wide range of styles (mythology to political commentary) and mediums from (elegant heirloom limited editions to recycled paper) by an amazing cast of 60+ artists from regions throughout the US and England presenting their unique doll creations.
"This exhibit provides an opportunity to view what contemporary artists find significant in the doll form as an artistic expression," says Olson who is also curator of the Doll Project, a community-university partnership that integrates art into the K-12 curriculum.
Historically dolls, a human replica, have been used for amulets, remembrances, worship, psychological therapy and recreation. Dolls are a reflection of our socio‐anthropological and cultural landscape since early humans created bone effigies.
Other examples include the Venus of Willendorf, the clay Chinese Ghost Warriors, Egyptian tomb dolls, Japanese Bunraku puppetry, porcelain Victorian portrait dolls, which all lead to our modern interpretations and mass productions of dolls.
Some of the 10 events in conjunction with the Doll exhibition include:
- International performance artist and NEA fellow Sha Sha Higby sharing her elaborate and ephemeral "moving sculpture" costumes.
- Artist, author and counselor Cassandra Light, the founder of the Way of the Doll School, addressing the incorporation of sacred healing into the doll-making process and discussing her amazing transformative doll personas.
On Sept. 9 at 7 p.m., Olson joins her colleague Jan Sofie in a special workshop on "Using Dolls in the Classroom." Sofie is the Director of ArtQuest and a faculty member at Sonoma State University.
They have worked on numerous projects using the doll as an instrument for learning, artistic development, and self-expression. They will share examples of how to use the doll form in the educational setting. Other educators will also share their experiences.
This exhibition allows time for educators to schedule their classes so that students can visit the Arts Center. Please call (707) 762‐5600 to schedule a tour.
The Center is open Thursday through Monday, noon to 4 p.m., closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and most national holidays. It is located at 230 Lakeville Street at E. Washington in Petaluma.
For the complete list of workshops and events associated with this exhibit visit
ABOVE, Professor Geri Olson with a lifetime of doll collecting, she uses them to inspire and educate. (Photo by Jean Wasp)