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Indiana University Bloomington

October 26, 2011

Paper Dolls by Sylvia Plath

Filed under: Exhibitions,Manuscripts — Cherry Williams @ 10:59 am

Well-known as one of the Lilly Library’s manuscript treasures is the collection of the papers of poet Sylvia Plath. Perhaps less well-known, but very engaging are her works of juvenile art, particularly her paper dolls, currently the centerpiece of an exhibition at the Owens Art Gallery, in Sackville, New Brunswick. We were very pleased to participate in this exhibit, guest curated by Dr. Anne Koval, associate professor in the fine arts department at Mount Allison University in Sackville. Dr. Koval discovered the handmade paper dolls and doll’s clothes in the Plath Archive of juvenilia during a visit to the Lilly.

The exhibition also showcases the responses of several well-known contemporary artists to the paper dolls, including an early short film by Cindy Sherman, a new immersive installation by Ed Pien, exquisite miniatures by Cybèle Young, large scale steel-cut dresses by Barb Hunt, the colourful embroideries of Anna Torma, an installation of cutouts by Jeannie Thib and the ephemeral paper doll chains of Lynne Yamamoto.

The exhibition opened September 16th and is scheduled to run until November 6th 2011 at the Owens Art Gallery. It then will travel to the Mendel Gallery (Saskatoon, SK) in spring 2012 accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with an essay by the curator, produced with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, artsnb and a CultureWorks Development Grant from Mount Allison University. We would also like to express our appreciation to the Sylvia Plath Estate for their support and kind permission to exhibit the paper dolls.

Paper Doll

[img src=http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/blog/wp-content/flagallery/paper-doll2/thumbs/thumbs_cindy.jpg]00Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman's untitled 1975 work of 11 black and white photographs mounted on board. The piece is a document from her Super-8 film, 'Doll Clothes.' Edition unique Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures.
[img src=http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/blog/wp-content/flagallery/paper-doll2/thumbs/thumbs_dress.jpg]00Small Dresses
Barb Hunt's 1994 piece 'Small Dresses.' The multiple tiny dresses are plasma-cut into cold-rolled steel. The work was purchased by the Canada Council Art Bank.
[img src=http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/blog/wp-content/flagallery/paper-doll2/thumbs/thumbs_miniatures.jpg]00Miniatures
'Did you plan this?' one of Toronto-based artist Cybèle Young's exquisite miniatures made from Japanese paper.
[img src=http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/blog/wp-content/flagallery/paper-doll2/thumbs/thumbs_paper.jpg]00Sylvia's paper dolls
Some of Sylvia Plath's, 'Paper Doll Clothing,' circa 1945. Courtesy: The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
[img src=http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/blog/wp-content/flagallery/paper-doll2/thumbs/thumbs_pien.jpg]00Ed Pien
Toronto-based artist Ed Pien created his site-specific installation 'Revel,' shown partially installed above, made with intricately cut Mylar as a part of 'Paper Doll' at Owens Art Gallery this past week.
[img src=http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/blog/wp-content/flagallery/paper-doll2/thumbs/thumbs_torma.jpg]00Anna Torma
Two details of Baie Verte-based textile artist Anna Torma's large embroidered work 'Party with Dionysos.' The piece explores the passage from girlhood to womanhood through various incantations of paper dolls, puppet dolls and dancing dolls dressed in white.
[img src=http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/blog/wp-content/flagallery/paper-doll2/thumbs/thumbs_torma2.jpg]00Anna Torma

Images courtesy of Canada’s Telegraph-Journal. Read their article about the Owens’ exhibition here.

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