Creating Communitas: African American Doll Bloggers Animate Black Dolls as Sites of Signification
Presented by Dr. Paulette Richards, puppet artist and independent researcher
|"Kevin's Confession Part 2" by Hey It's Muff|
February 1, 2021, 12 – 1pm (EST)
James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference
Race and Difference Colloquium Series
This study explores the work of three African American artists who maintained doll blogs and animated their dolls in short video narratives between 2010 and 2015. Although puppetry usually excludes dolls on the grounds that dolls are ostensibly for static display or private play while puppets are animated in performances before an audience, these videos are significant as instances of African American object performance. By focusing on adult women of color who not only collect, but also play with dolls, this analysis extends girlhood studies, which, as a sub-discipline of gender studies has approached doll play from historical, anthropological, and psychological perspectives (Bernstein 2011, Chin 1999, Forman-Brunell 2012). By considering You Tube as a platform where tens if not hundreds of thousands of girls and women produce, disseminate, and view visual narratives using dolls to represent myriad fictional worlds, this presentation also addresses a large body of work that film studies scholars have essentially ignored. Finally reviewing this body of work offers a model of how puppeteers can connect with audiences at a time when the future of live theater is uncertain.
Free and open to the public. To Register:
Contact: Rhonda Patrick
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This information is also available at the Emory University website.
Paulette Richards is a puppet artist and independent researcher. She holds a Ph.D. in French Civilization from the University of Virginia and has taught at Georgetown University, Tulane University, and Georgia Tech. She survived a ten month stint in Senegal as a 2013/ 2014 Fulbright Scholar without contracting any tropical diseases, but sometime during her service as an artist in residence at the Institut français de Saint Louis, the puppet bug bit her hard. After returning to Atlanta she became a docent in the Worlds of Puppetry Museum at the Center for Puppetry Arts. When fellow members of Decatur Makers introduced her to Arduino microprocessors and stepper motors, she immediately thought of the animatronic dogs and Doozers in the Henson gallery at the museum and began designing her own rudimentary robots. Richards has taught animatronic puppetry workshops at the Friends School of Atlanta, Decatur Makers, the Dekalb County Public Library, the Center for Puppetry Arts, and the Puppeteers of America 2017 National Festival. She co-curated the Living Objects: African American Puppetry exhibit that ran at the University of Connecticut’s Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry from October 2O18 to April 2O19 with Dr. John Bell and also co-edited the anthology of essays from the Living Objects Symposium. She is currently curating an exhibit of African American puppetry scheduled to open at the Center for Puppetry Arts in November 2O21 and her book, Object Performance in the Black Atlantic is forthcoming from Routledge in 2O22.
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