- Full Name
- Christy Lou
- Artist Bio
I was born and raised in southern New Mexico, but being full of the bohemian artist afflictions of wanderlust and adventure it wasn’t long into my adulthood that I left the desert for Europe. Traveling the world whenever and however I could I was never far from doing something creative and always carried with me the belief that childhood passions are one’s true calling in life.
I never could quite sort out how that sentiment would work out for me, as my childhood passions were G.I. Joe, Barbie dolls, designing costumes, history and horror/ghost stories. No matter where I went in the world these things were with me, I would seek out spots of historical interest and spend countless hours in museums of all sorts (my favorite being the V and A in London, just for the room full of historical fashions). I’ve always been an avid Barbie collector and G.I. Joe collector (and player, don't ever expect to find anything from my collection "mint in box"), from the moment at age 11 when someone told me I would be growing out of my interest in them soon and I vowed there that I never, ever would, and to this day I keep shelves full of them. Most of my quiet childhood moments (being an only child meant I tended to have a lot of time to myself) were filled with sketches of fantastical costumery, and most people told me from a very early age that I was destined to be a fashion designer. But I had always found modern, trendy fashion ideas tedious and uninteresting, preferring instead the grandeur of history and the limitless possibility of imagination (so I assumed quiet early that there really wasn’t a place for me in the fashion world). Between collecting action figures, chasing history and sketching gowns for long lost faerie queens I was sneaking into theatres to catch the latest horror movies and looking through my dad’s not very well hidden stash of ghost story books. These things never did change no matter how far along I got in years, of course I didn’t have to sneak into the movies after awhile and I could hunt out my own ghost books, but the same thrill and fright I got from all of these things as a kid was always still there.
I have usually kept myself busy with the arts, whether it’s just been side project hobbies or full fledged creative careers, doing everything from mural painting to comic book illustrating. I enjoy every moment that is spent with paint or pen and ink, but I never felt completely satisfied with any project, no matter how well it may have turned out. I’ve had my usually slightly dark and skeleton laced art exhibited, published, bought and sold, written about, raved over and much maligned, but still I always felt like I was somehow not hitting my niche. A problem I always had is that 2-D always felt flat, excuse the pun, just felt like something was missing - depth, perspective, texture, movement..these things can be duplicated, hinted at, but not actually brought to life on a flat surface, and that’s what I wanted in my work, to actually create those things.
It was only a couple years ago, living back in New Mexico with my son and a houseful of pets, that I was trying to repair one of my hopelessly damaged Barbie dolls (I absolutely swear this is the truth…..the dog ate it). When I was running through my head the materials I had on hand that I could possibly use for repair - clay, super glue, acrylic paints. And while I was planning how I could possibly manage these repairs with a rag tag bag of equipment the idea occurred to me that maybe I should go beyond repair and get a little creative. Barbie’s natural elegance and beauty, with her current state of mangled disrepair caused by the dog set off all sorts of ideas about my favorite ghost stories - those of lovely figures with tragedies to deal with for all eternity.
The next thing I know the unique little re-sculpted Barbie doll was gaining attention and admirers, which then of course inspired me to set out on more. Before long I was getting donations from family and friends of old Barbies that would otherwise be discarded or forgotten in musty, rotting storage boxes. So with a large supply of dolls that were in need of new life I started drawing inspiration from old books, a stray historical documentary, my continual fascination of ghost stories and horror movies, coffee shop conversations, museum visits.
I began looking for historical figures attached to larger than life personalities, people who had been tragic or infamous, sad or fierce, warriors or victims, all fascinating with bloody histories. When a person came to mind I then set about doing as much research as possible, I throw myself into picking up little facts about the era, the area, the person and the people that surrounded them. Then, taking one of the discarded Barbie dolls I sculpt her a new face befitting of the personality she is going to become, and rather than representing the historical figure as they would have been in life I want to interpret them as haunting, lovely ghosts. When the heads are sculpted and set then I experiment a lot with paint and mediums as I coat the new head and doll body in an interesting mix of colors and textures. And then I get to my favorite part and the part where I get to apply all the research that I do.
The best part is constructing the costumes. It is important to me to be as historically accurate when recreating a dolls clothing and accessories. What sort of jewelry would a 16th century, Eastern European princess would have worn, what type of animal fur would have lined the cloak of a Romanian leader in the 15th century? Once I am satisfied with the little details I go about creating the costume. Along with discarded Barbie dolls I get donations of old clothing and fabric scraps and often go on hunts through second hand stores searching for unique materials that can be put to good use as dolls costumes. I never use patterns or pre made doll clothing items of any sort, I cut each piece of fabric just for the doll in the moment. And to keep control of the tiny little detail I never use a sewing machine, I stitch everything from hand, from the regal gowns to the trim on the tiny hats, enjoying every little moment.
I had sculpted and stitched up quite a collection of these ghostly dolls when I realized they were getting a fair amount of attention and before I could even get a grasp on it they started making appearances in galleries, horror and doll conventions, occasionally I spot pictures of them in news articles and blogs, and now I have very little time to work on anything but the beautiful horrific Barbie dolls. All of a sudden I find that my life’s work sprang from my childhood passions.
- Artist Statement
My work is a unique blend of my two greatest life time loves - dolls and Horror. Using discarded Barbies and endless assortments of fabric scraps and found objects I create elegant and lovely ghostly figures. With resculpted skeletal heads and hand stitched costumes of great detail, my pretty dolls are unique members of the horror genre.
Though often bloody and frightful my ghost dolls make a delicate statement on the aspect of Barbie herself being a beautiful horror. An extreme and unrealistic image of female ideals, she can be a scary, daunting icon at times. My creations draw on all of Barbie’s aspects from tailored, bright elegance to creepy, manufactured plastic while becoming engaging entities with personalities and looks all their own.
Perhaps, however, the very best thing about creating these lovely little horrors is that I get to spend my days deeply involved in my favorite childhood past time - playing Barbies.
My dolls have been featured in Girls and Corpses Magazine, Paraphilia Magazine, The Las Cruces Dia De Las Muertos Exhibit, Texas Frightmare Weekend and often appear on HorrorNews.Net.
Find Dolls and Dead Things on FaceBook at http://www.facebook.com/DollsandDeadThings
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- 8 years 19 hours