Various cotton and decorative fabrics, cotton thread, wood, pennies, cardboard, mohair, glass and plastic beads, metal wires, alcohol ink, fabric dye, plastic toys, paper, pipe cleaners, various antiques
Software used: Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and InDesign
Doll bodies made from patterns by Patti Medaris Culea
24" x 24"
This project began as a simple material question: how might a cloth doll take off her makeup? (The answer: I shot the sequence in reverse, painting the makeup mid-shoot while sitting on the floor of the lighting studio). From there, it morphed into a meditation on the quiet moments we spend alone and ended as a celebration of the silence we share with loved ones. Captured in these photographic comics are not grand moments, but those just adjacent: a young actor learns her lines and regroups backstage after an exhausting performance; tea time goes wrong and home movie night goes right. I'm fascinated by the idea that life happens in the little moments. If that's true, these dolls have had quite a life.
Like its conceptual successor, The Kitchen, this piece uses cloth dolls as a playful stand-in for humans. I have always found playing with dolls to be an exercise in empathy, but it can also be performance or discovery. nice and loud is in many ways an exploration, the natural development of a long-held love of play and a lifelong daydream of unspoken connections. One doll led to two led to three in the same way that real friendships tend to beget others; sometimes, even a silent story needs a costar.
Silence was key to this piece. It is no accident that I shot most of these scenes alone at night in my studio, wrapped in sweatshirts and the perverse pride of being the only one left working when everyone else had gone to bed. Though in subsequent photographic comics I incorporated speech bubbles, in this series I wanted to explore the ways we perform without words. That meant conveying emotion through backgrounds, props, and lighting. Like the title suggests, even without words these characters' inner lives speak nice and loud.