I am a painter who makes dolls. Also photographs. And now a little stop-motion animation. Portraiture is the root of everything my work has become. My subject is personality and the human heart.
The first dolls were made to hang in front of portraits. They opened the paintings to unseen territory: psychic pressures and histories we all carry. They acted as foil and relief to the portraits. Their bodies didn't have to be in proportion. They could be hideous, and do all the things that a seated portrait could not. I fell under their spell.
I wondered who they were. What did they want to be? As I made them, I put them in different contexts: installed on walls; placed in front of reflective panels, outside for a month on the a gallery’s deck in St. Cloud, MN. I've made them a stage and written them a play.
When I moved from Minnesota to South Carolina a big shift occurred: my work moved out of the studio and into the world. With little time to work, I began taking photos (of primarily one doll, man). New contexts have been unfolding ever since. The absurdity, humor, and poignancy elicited by his scale excite me. And I love being exposed while working.
What I have learned so far: that the dolls are actors, raw materials themselves and never finished; that my love for paint abides; that stop-motion is very meditative and full of possibilities; and that still, what drives my work is that moment when paint/material turns into a presence looking back at me. This mystery never fails to astonish me.
– Stacey Davidson is an Assistant Professor of Fine Art at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.