I’ve always surrounded myself with things that look like me, accumulating objects worn and distressed. Piles of antique and vintage ephemera cluttered my home for years, long before I had the idea of putting these things to use. I admit it: I was a hoarder. But instead of collecting out-of-date magazines or cereal boxes or plain old garbage, I was drawn to anything handcrafted.
The idea of throwing away these objects, which someone had poured their heart and soul into, was unacceptable to me. Whether an ornate candleholder, or a broken piece of costume jewelry, or some old, decorative hardware: it was someone’s art, and all art should be preserved. My visual-art career began with mosaics, which led almost seamlessly into assemblage art, created from things that I found both beautiful and interesting, often from the street. In my assemblages, characters began to form and grow. This was never my intention, it just happened. Soon, I was introduced to the world of art dolls through a friend working in the medium. My entry into the world of doll making felt organic, like the next natural step.
As a drag performance artist and a musician, I have spent most of my adult life on the stage. Being in the spotlight definitely feeds the ego, but at the same time it taxes the private life that I hold dear. Doll making allows me to work with the tools of my trades within a degree of anonymity. It also justifies my habitual collecting. The characters I create are inspired by my life as an entertainer and the people who I have been so fortunate to work beside. Musicians, drag and burlesque performers, circus and sideshow folk, costumers, and hair and makeup stylists all contribute the ideas that form these one-of-a-kind creatures. The old and mostly discarded objects that decorate my dolls give them an immediate sentimentality; these repurposed and reinvented objects hold decades and centuries of stories within themselves.
My commissioned works take the art of the sentimental in a deeper direction; clients first rummage through their collections, putting together objects with personal value and historical significance. I’ll often consider these items for weeks before I feel they have found their proper places. I don’t want to be too mystical, but I often sense that I am channeling the energy left in these items by their previous owners. In this process, the lines between art and magic become blurred. I see the art that I create as a mash-up of sculpture, assemblage, fashion design, makeup, and hair artistry. I also see it as the reinvention and preservation of beauty.