Artist Jessica Harrison Gives Ceramic Dolls Gory Makeovers

published Oct 20, 2019
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Many of us know ceramic dolls as the stuff of our grandmas’ cabinets or our childhood bedrooms. The larger kind, with the plush bellies and porcelain heads, hands, and feet, have been given the creepy treatment many times, enough that they can evoke a sense of dread without any embellishments at all. Small ceramic figurines have mostly been spared that association. But artist Jessica Harrison has truly tapped their macabre potential.

For her series “Broken,” Harrison uses found ceramic figurines, according to Hyperallergic, with beautiful faces, dresses, and poses that resemble old-school Disney princesses. 

Harrison then gives the dolls gory alterations. Instead of holding an enchanted apple or a woodland creature friend, many are holding their own hearts, ripped from their own chests. 

Other dolls in the series have torn off their own faces, or had them blown off by some unknown force.

One dips her head back to reveal a sliced-open neck, vertebrae showing.

“Harrison’s practice is hinged on a fundamental fallibility of the body and types of knowledge that can be generated through mistakes and inexperience,” reads a statement on the artist’s website. “She has a particular interest in the fallibility of observation and the gap between the seen and the felt, the visual and the tactile.“

Outside the “Broken” series, Harrison has plenty of other eerie artwork centering on dolls and the body. Onto other found figurines, she has added her own glaze, with disturbing effect.

The cracked-glaze ones are particularly unsettling.

In 2010, Harrison created faux eyelashes out of fly legs. We’re equal parts disturbed, impressed, and inspired for Halloween. See more of Jessica Harrison’s work on Instagram.