Black Dolls: The Magazine ANTIQUES

Black Dolls:
The Magazine ANTIQUES

Project Description

Black Dolls

by Elizabeth Pochoda

JULY-AUGUST 2015 – The dolls you see here, rescued from the vast diaspora of their kin by Deborah Neff and bound together in a work of art by Radius books, will inevitably be admired as sculptural objects and as fine examples of a folk art passed down through generations from roughly 1850 to 1940. They are that to be sure. And yet in their time, as perhaps in ours, they have done and perhaps still can do something more important than stand in vitrines: they give us an unusual part of African-American culture–an art without reference to suffering, oppression, exclusion. Here they are, each one bold, unexpected, beautifully improvised, mute and glorious.

Between the covers of the book, Black Dolls, Margo Jefferson has written of her childhood as a black child with white dolls, and Faith Ringgold of hers as a black child with black dolls, but no one has written the untold histories hehind the dolls in these pages. The collector, Deborah Neff, the editor, Frank Maresca, and the photographer, Ellen McDermott, have let them and the vintage photographs that Neff collected to accompany them speak for themselves. In an overly-explained world that is as important a gesture as assembling the collection itself.

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