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Personal Information

Full Name
Lavonne Sallee
Artist Bio

I was born in Roswell, New Mexico on January 18, 1946. From birth to the age of 25 I lived in 35 apartments / houses / trailers in 4 states and went to nine schools. My mother was a waitress and a seamstress. My father was an artist. He was working as a cartoonist for Walt Disney at the time he married my mother. My parents were divorced when I was four years old. My mother had two more daughters in a second marriage that lasted a couple of years. At the end of that marriage my stepfather deserted the family and stole the two girls. A search for the girls lead us to San Francisco where we found them five years later.

Growing up, I showed creative and artistic abilities but was discouraged in regard to making art a profession. At that time, in the 60’s, being an artist was thought to be reserved for hippies, bohemians, and people who were not serious about financial security and did not have their priorities in order. I was taught that what other people expected of me, thought of me and felt about me was more important then what I thought and felt about myself or what I wanted for myself, so I did all the things I thought would gain the approval of those I wanted to impress. Most of my career was for a large banking corporation and for most of those years I was a Bank Fraud Investigator. The people I cared about seemed to be impressed with my success. I’d made it to a high-ranking position in the Bank and made good money even though I had flunked the 10th and the 11th grades of High School.

I owned my own home and car, a couple of TVs, and I had all the clothes, shoes and earrings any woman needed. In the eyes of the community /society /family / friends I had all the things that were supposed to make me HAPPY. But I was not happy.

Around the age of 47 I began to develop a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia (as if going through menopause would not be uncomfortable enough). The condition is aggravated by repetitious movement and by the age of 55 I went on permanent disability. That actually turned out to be a blessing in some ways because I now do what I love by creating One Of A Kind doll diaorama's. Even though I have this pain condition, I have 24 hours a day so I can work at my own pace.

I have dabbled in different kinds of Arts and Crafts over the years but nothing has ever caught my attention and inspires me the way Barbie does.

Above is a self portrait in a technique I call Fabricollage. It is little pieces of fabric cut and glued in place.

Below is my car which i decorated in rejected art projects, jewelry and other trinkets, buttons etc that I've collected over the years.

Artist Statement

WOW! Who would have thought that, at the age of 62 I would have found something that inspires me so much? And, as a double whammy, that it would involve playing with Barbie dolls, blows me away. All of my life I searched for something to create or produce that would make me feel fulfilled. Well, I “produced” three children, two boys (now 31 and 41) and a daughter (now 34) and they produced 3 children so far. That fulfills me and now they are grown and on their own. Somewhere along the line I realized that “ME, SEARCHING for the thing that I could create” was the wrong way to go about it. Instead of living my life always looking to the future and imagining what it might bring (i.e.; love, money, success, happiness) I began to live One Day at a Time, putting one foot in front of the other and following the “coincidences” that are presented to me as I go with the flow of life. I also tried to live from my heart instead doing the RIGHT THING or the BEST THING or the LOGICAL THING. When I am living in the NOW, my life changes. No matter what has happened in the past or what will be in the future is not an issue that exists NOW. Living in the NOW releases me from guilt and resentment, and now I think twice before I speak or act and choose the positive way to speak and act. Living in the NOW fills me up with WONDER and GRATITUDE. I think the reasons doing Altered Barbie’s is so much more fulfilling that any other technique or project I’ve done before is that Barbie gives me the opportunity to express all the sides of myself and to poke fun at or criticize others in a humorous way. And, as a bonus, 75% to 90% of my materials are second (third) hand, and/or recycled materials.


Member for
13 years 8 months