“Am I a painter? A muralist? As a teacher at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, I find my medium to be whatever demonstration I’m doing to introduce a lesson. Without a meaningful body of work, my artistic energy largely goes into the process of looking and connecting.
I can see some consistency along the way. I’ve always enjoyed creating with found objects, collecting pocketfuls of interesting sticks and stones. And trees have always fascinated me – dancing in the wind, beckoning me to climb, offering shelter and shade, and shaping my landscape.
So when I met this Ugandan doll made from banana tree fiber I decided to create an environment for her using local trees and the various colors, shapes, and textures of their bark, wood, twigs, buds, and fruit. This assemblage includes parts of a banana tree from Uganda, an acacia tree from Ghana, and cottonwood, maple, walnut, sweet gum, bur oak, curly willow, and pine trees from my neighborhood. The box itself is built of slats from a South American tree used to ship tree fruit. These trees reflect the biodiversity of our planet, like the mythical Tree of Life through which we are all connected.
Nature’s cycles of growth and new life hold great hope for the world. If we could see diversity – of trees and of people – as a wealth of potential in the web of life, what WOOD we do?”
Kim in Ghana
I am so grateful to each of these artists, not only for their creative energy, but also for the incredible amount of thought they have put into their dolls. Kim, like many of the others, has used found objects to embellish the organic nature of the original doll, and she obviously gave a lot of thought to the meaning behind each choice. These artists continue to amaze me; the connections they’re making between the doll and themselves, the doll and the child who made it and the doll and the world at large are truly inspiring.