"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Saturday, May 28, 2011

jane pronko

Jane was born in East St. Louis, Illinois and has lived in the Kansas City area since graduating from the University of Kansas. She has exhibited work in many group and solo shows in the Kansas City Area. She is represented by Modern Arts Midwest in Lincoln & Omaha NE and the Sande Webster Gallery in Philadelphia. Her last exhibit was with the Leopold Gallery in Kansas City in 2010.

Her work is represented in a number of public, corporate and private collections in the US and Europe. She is best known for her paintings of urban landscapes of Kansas City and New York.

Jane wrote about the process of decorating her doll. I think her account and the completed doll itself are both absolutely delightful.

"I got home with my banana leaf doll, looked at her, and thought about what she might need to be made ready for a night of fun with the other dolls. I had seen these others, and knew that in the good hands of artists, these dolls would also be changed in wonderful ways and dressed for the big event.

I’m not given to throwing away anything I think is interesting, so in my basement there are lots of scraps of cloth, beads and other strange things acquired and collected through the years. In this amalgam of stuff there had to be things I could use in her transformation. She needed features for her face, eyes to look out on the world and certainly a mouth to smile with. I covered her head with a tan piece of felt and sewed it down. A very tiny nose was sculpted from the same piece of felt. I embroidered on the blue eyes and red mouth I thought she would like. I tried to use a piece of an old blond Halloween wig for her hair, but it was too matted, wild, and ugly for Cassandra, my name for her. In a bag of my Aunt Sue’s knitting yarn I found some soft brown wool that looked like hair and could be piled high on her head. She began to take shape as I made her a bosom of foam and buttons, covered with a bra made of lace.

Now, what should she wear to the party? I found a scrap of blue silk from a larger piece, used to make a dress when my daughter was a flower girl in her cousin’s wedding. As I sewed Cassandra’s dress together, I thought of her playing dress up as I had so many years ago with my mother and aunt’s discarded clothes. I strung a necklace of crystal beads and made a hat of real pheasant feathers from what had once been a man’s hat headband. The final touch was a mink stole made from two small animal tails I had purchased at an estate sale. Cassandra was now dressed up and ready to meet some new and interesting friends.

She needed to stand on her own. As a temporary measure I put her feet into an old blue mason jar. After an early plan for a support that wasn’t adequate, I had decided to use the wire and wooden block provided. But, when the time came, I couldn’t bring myself to impale her on the sharp wire. Earlier, I had had trouble sticking pins into her body to hold up the dress until I could sew it on. She had become too real to me to risk causing her pain. In the end I left her, with her feet in the blue glass jar. I felt she could always escape, which would be risky, but along with the risk was the possibility of enjoying some kind of freedom. Maybe, she would be gently lifted out, touched, and admired. She might like that. "

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