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

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

let the doll parade begin! suzanne garr

There will be 23 decorated dolls at the 5th Annual CTT Friendraiser/Fundraiser. They represent a "collaboration" between the children at the orphanage who made them and the artists who then adorned them. In the days to follow, all dolls will be featured here, along with some information about the artists who worked on them. First up: Suzanne Garr.

Suzanne Garr is a self-taught photographer/artist originally from Pennsylvania. She now lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her beginnings in photography and art began when she was young. She would find boxes of black and white photographs in her grandmother's attic and ask all kinds of questions about the people and places she saw in them. Her favorite subject in grade school was art, and after school instead of playing outside, Suzanne could be found helping the art teacher refilling supplies and hanging other students' work. She continued with her art and photography throughout high school and college, when she received her first camera. She worked on the college yearbook while receiving a degree on journalism and marketing from St. Bonaventure University. Her career started in magazine publishing as a writer/editor and then ventured into print production.

Over the years, Suzanne has renewed her passion for photography by attending workshops lead by documentary and portrait photographers Thatcher Cook, Francis Ford and Paul Calhoun. She has had solo and group exhibits in Baltimore, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Her doll was featured in last years "New Letters" magazine, and she was a finalist in the Photographer's Forum Magazine 2011 Annual Photo Competition.

Suzanne has been a devoted friend to Change the Truth. She was a member of Team 4 and Team 5 and will co-lead the Team 6 trip to Uganda this December! (Much more on that to follow.) Suzanne is pictured here with her dear friend Oliva, a child from the orphanage.

This is what Suzanne wrote about her doll:

"Your Very Own Name

What's in a name? Well, to 180 orphans, everything. Just imagine, if you can, being an orphan and living with so many others. How do you stand out? What makes you unique? It's your name. It's yours. It was given to you at birth, and no one can ever take it away from you. When it came time to design my banana doll, an idea came to me based on my trips to St. Mary Kevin Orphanage. I remember the kids coming up to me and asking, 'Do you remember me? Do you know my name?' I wanted to somehow incorporate the names of all the children whose hands I'd held, whose hugs I'd received, whose tears I'd wiped away, whose laughs I'd shared and the space in my heart where they all now reside.

This doll is a reflection of that idea and includes some of the generously donated Christmas gifts that were hand made for the children in 2011. The knitted hats were donated by a group of Wisconsin knitters. Kids made the button bracelets. Julie Armour, a retired school teacher and friend, designed and crafted the felt necklaces. The skirt on the doll is a collection of beaded strands, each containing the name of a child who has touched my life in a very special way. The chalkboard base is what you find in every classroom at SMK, the place in which the children learn their lessons each day. The ledges are lined with photographs that were taken over the past two years while volunteering at SMK as part of Team 4 and 5. They depict the faces and moments shared with these very special children. Like all children, they love having their picture taken.

Although the children at SMK are orphans, they each have a name and a special place in many of the hearts of the volunteers who have traveled to meet them, love them and be their friends. Each time you look at this banana doll, you will see a name, and behind that name is a very special child who is loved world over.

Knitted hat by Mary Sue Protz
Felt necklace by Julie Armour
Mechanical assistance by Steve Engel and John Ehlers"


Anonymous said...

Fabulous! Can't wait for the auction! MJ

Anonymous said...

So beautiful! And what a heartfelt message behind it... Mary

Paul Matzner said...

Suzanne, what a great doll! You are a special person and the orphanage is lucky to have your talents every December.

Pamela said...

Wonderful story. Love it, you and all you do.