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The Japanese American National Museum in conjunction with the Los Angeles Toy, Doll And Amusements Museum is presently having a showing of artist decorated and designed Kokeshi Dolls. Curated by Christina Conway, the pieces in the show are for sale as well as being on exhibit and are so beautiful, I wanted to show you ALL of them. It's a looong post, so get your coffee, your Red Bull or your Goji berry drink and start scrolling.
First off, what's a Kokeshi Doll?
Kokeshi (こけし, kokeshi?), are Japanese dolls, originally from northern Japan. They are handmade from wood, have a simple trunk and an enlarged head with a few thin, painted lines to define the face. The body has a floral design painted in red, black, and sometimes yellow, and covered with a layer of wax. One characteristic of kokeshi dolls is their lack of arms or legs. The bottom is marked with the signature of the artist.
above: original traditional Kokeshi Dolls
The modern versions of this traditional icon in the exhibit range from surreal to whimsical, from dark to sweet, and from simple to complex. Some are carved, some are painted, some added hair or feathers, and others, crafted in clay or ceramics.
above: some of the custom Kokeshi dolls in the exhibit
The long list of participating artists come from all over the globe and include such talents as Kozydan, Camilla Engman, Edwin Ushiro, Tara McPherson, Chris Sickels (Red Nose Studio), Poketo, Amy Ruppel and Meredith Dittmar. Varied materials and styles make each of these an individual sculpture as well as part of an impressive collection.
Here's 100 of the dolls for you. The few that are not included in this post are because they were merely a color variation or duplicate. Each can be enlarged by clicking on the image:
Special thanks to the Japanese American National Museum as well as all the artists, and Curator Christina Conway, for the images.
Many of these phenomenal dolls have sold, but some are still available! Go here to see what's left for purchase and which artists create which dolls. The purchased dolls will be delivered after the show's end in October, 2009.
above: my own 'virtual' Kokeshi doll I made at Kokeshi World.
Be sure to check out their interactive Kokeshi World micro site where you can make your own Kokeshi Doll!
For National Museum hours, admission, and directions, please visit janm.org/visit.
If you liked this post, you may want to check out the Russian Dolls painted by Fashion designers here.