They're supposed to make you laugh.
That's the point of the exhibit Women Who Play With Dolls, opening at Commonwheel Artists Co-op as part of Manitou Springs' Third Friday this week.
Belinda Chambers made a doll with some friends as an impromptu activity during a girls getaway. It made her think about the roles that dolls play for children, showing them how to take care of something. It also forced her beyond her usual jewelry-making and into a less serious art form.
"You laugh at things you make, and you continue to giggle about them throughout the night," she says.
Last year Chambers took it a step further, when friends and fellow Commonwheel artists Kathy Brega and Caron O'Neil discussed creating a doll exhibit. Now the three have their wares on Commonwheel's shelves for the playful show.
Brega's experience in making dolls started by wrapping fabric around a twig. But today, doll individuality (and roughness) isn't desirable, the quilter says. Many children want the same dolls their friends have. The dolls no longer represent an individual personality but an identicalness that she says goes back to the advent of Barbie.
She describes these finished dolls as the "anti-Barbie for adults." For example, one she's called "Betty Burqa" was inspired by her wondering what the women who don them are like. Under the mesh covering she's placed a cell phone, necklace and purse.
"It's a different way of looking at what dolls mean in society and what they mean to kids and what roles they play," she says. "This is a very lighthearted look at that I think."
The dolls might prompt a serious insight, but that's not the intention, Brega says.
However, playing with them really isn't, either.
"I'm thinking if anyone does perhaps purchase one," she says, "they would perhaps put it as a display as an item they'd like to look at."
The costumes were amazing and added to the brilliant production.
The striking colors and textures are reminiscent of Southern Colorado and New Mexico. Lovely work.