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More or less monthly posts about Transformative Healing Dolls
I’ve been taking a very long time writing this newsletter/blog post for some reason. My best guess is that what happened in my last workshop encompassed so much that it is hard to know where to begin. And yet, I want to get all this information out to you. And I want to share with you some of the amazing creations by the participants in the workshop. The other reason it’s taken so long is that I’ve been getting close to the deadline for another project, Materialized Magic, a community fiber art exhibit. (see below and also check out our FB page.)
I’m writing about the "Alter ego flip doll" workshop that took place Saturday, May 21st at the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts. Flip dolls are two sided dolls connected at the waist, with a skirt dividing the two sides. For this workshop I guided participants in making paper and cardboard flip dolls onto a background. We spent some time in guided meditation and then journaling, about what this other, possibly hidden, side of the self might be. Then we used collage to create the flip dolls, each side with its own background.
This was the title of the workshop and we did find hidden strengths as we explored what an alter ego flip doll might mean. But this is where the unique healing properties of the flip doll comes in, with its ability to contain opposites in one. Though we were looking at two sides of ourselves, what we discovered was that the two sides were inexorably connected, one side not being able to exist without the other. We saw that what seemed at first to be limitations turned out to be strengths. And ultimately we discovered the wholeness that exists within all of us, where opposites disappear.
What is the meaning of alter ego?
In the guided meditation prior to the group, I suggested that the alter ego might be a being of light that brings us love or a guide that helps us find our way. Here are some of the ways that participants saw the alter ego.
…the private side of the personality
…a powerful protective self
…a scary side of the self
…a self that cares for itself rather than others.
It was fascinating how varied the impressions of the alter ego were.
One theme that emerged was the importance of wholeness. We all noticed that there was a side of the doll that we preferred over the other. This was interesting. Why would this be? There was mention of the scary self, the self that we don’t want others to see, the self that has secrets. Or there’s the vulnerable self, connected to child parts of our identity that we may not be aware of but that makes its needs known, particularly in times of stress. Some of these aspects of the self are uncomfortable, so it makes sense that when we put them out in the open, as in a flip doll, we might want to hide them from view. Yet the wholeness comes when we begin to accept both sides as contributing to who we are and loving both.
Women’s roles and the alter ego
Related to this was the idea of what roles women in particular are expected to hold and that cause us to lose connection to our essential wholeness. Some felt constrained by the demands of motherhood and partnering, Others felt the demands that jobs and careers can impose on women. Sometimes in work settings we may feel the need to look a certain way and present as powerful, when in fact our internal experience may be very different. And in caring for children or others, we sometimes put their needs above our own.
The uniqueness of the Smith Center
The Smith Center for Healing and the Arts is a very special healing place for those who are currently experiencing or once had a cancer diagnosis. The center offers nutritional counseling, meditation and yoga and guidance through the confusing maze of cancer treatment. And there are the healing arts, of which my workshop is one of the offerings. I’m very grateful to have the chance to offer workshops in their healing space. Participants talked about how their diagnosis and treatment for cancer was also an opportunity to “plumb the depths” to “break out” and to find a way to put oneself first instead of the needs of others. Again the theme of wholeness came up, with the idea that we are so much more than the form of our bodies or any disease or illness our bodies might be experiencing.
Below I've included images of one side of each of the flip dolls created in the workshop. They are rich in variety and inspiration. Click on images to see full image and caption.
My flip dolls
As I’ve been posting about here, flip dolls have become sort of an obsession for me. After my small alter ego flip doll exhibit at the Torpedo Factory with Susan Sherwin and Sheep Jones, which I wrote about here last November, I’ve been interested in finding out ways to further explore the medium. I recently found out that a grant proposal that I submitted early this year to the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild was accepted. I will be writing more about this here, probably giving regular updates and the project evolves. But for now, I’ll just say that I will be bringing flip dolls to N. Street Village, a center for homeless women in D.C. We will be constructing flip dolls together on the theme of female heroines and I will be creating a large scale flip doll, including stories gathered from the members of N. Street Village. The hope is that the project will culminate in an exhibit in the spring of 2017. I will also be presenting a summary of my experiences at the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild meeting, and offering a related workshop, also in the spring of 2017.
One more thing, my big flip doll, Miranda/Pegasus vs Barbie/Anita Bryant is currently on display at Fiber National in the main gallery at the Workhouse Art Center in Lorton. The opening for this exhibit will be June 11 from 6-9 pm.
And, another up-coming exhibit at the Reece Museum in Tennessee is called “Shaping Lives: The Transformative Art of the Doll.” to which I sent three of my dolls. That opening is also June 11th but I won’t be able to go to that one. If you live anywhere near Tennessee, I’d love it if you could go see it and take pictures for me!!
I've been writing a lot about my big project this year, Materialized Magic, co-led with Stacy Cantrell so I won't say too much about it here. But check out our FB page of that name for dates of up-coming meet-ups. The culminating show is soon, June 25th and we hope to see you there or better still at one of the meet ups!
Next Smith Center workshop:
Felted Fairy Villages-Saturday, July 9th, 1-5 pm.
Signing off for now. Happy Summer! The warmth is here and I have been able to start wearing shorts.
I've been making dolls for about ten years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am excited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!