Freya Jobbins & Hello Barbie: The Unnatural Nature of Dolls

We are what we eat- are we also what we play with? Australian artist Freya Jobbins asks questions about modern consumerism with her strange portraits made of doll parts. She states that “the irony of my plastic works is that I take a material that was created to be touched, and I make it untouchable as an artwork.”
Freya Jobbins with her dollies/raw materials

Jobbins' disturbing busts generate a lot of thought about what our expectations about children, forms of play, the nature of visual and tactile nurture, and children's imagination.

Some of these questions are discussed in a recent Wall Street Journal article about the newest generation of interactive, talking dolls.  

The description of six year old Riley's interaction with Hello Barbie  (a.k.a., chatterbot, talkbotchatbotBotchatterboxArtificial Conversational Entity) provides no evidence of learning, imagination nor enlightenment.  In addition, most of these dolls are marketed to girls...apparently an appropriate subject for experimentation. Wi-Fi enabled, Hello Barbie and her owner's privacy is, of course, compromised.

Here's Hello Barbie's New York City iridescent magenta launch! 

Hello Barbie Review, by Sarah
HELLO Barbie Doll has been released! She retails for just under $75 and is for ages 6 and up. You will need access to an Android or Apple device in order to download the app to get her to work. She also needs to be hooked up to your home wi-fi network to function. 
After viewing this Hello Barbie review,  Jobbins' freakish busts look incredibly charming.....


Researching the Sublime

The Tate Gallery explores the power of the sublime in this fabulous site.
"The sublime has long been understood to mean a quality of greatness or grandeur that inspires awe and wonder. From the seventeenth century onwards the concept and the emotions it inspires have been a source of inspiration for artists and writers, particularly in relation to the natural landscape."
Tate Sublime Overview

To make our constructed scenes, we studied representations of humanity pitted against monumental forces throughout art history. The landscapes of 19th century Romantic painters like John Martin, Caspar David Freidrich and J.M.W. Turner exemplify this. These artists employed various devices for heightened dramatic effect: light and darkness, turbulent seas, ferocious storms, dizzying chasms, raging rivers, insurmountable mountains, minute struggling humans. The presentation of human travail against great odds was intended to make viewers feel vulnerable, and to elevate them to recognize the struggle we share.

With ramped up color and action, current apocalyptic films and video games are the descendants of the romantic tradition. Both traditions are meant to induce terror via spectacle. Both try to move us to new considerations. Perhaps by contemplating worst case child care scenarios, we could stimulate ideas about an equitable and compassionate alternative.

Watch Me Grow: America's Unequal Childhoods

While documenting child care centers, we collected lists of the inventive names given to them. We chose titles for the images from the list  that worked in a paradoxical way with the allegorical landscapes.  The names suggested a cradled, protected childhood and proclaimed hope for the future. When paired with the scenes we created, they can be read as broken promises. Our title for the series, Watch Me Grow, can describe witnessing the growth of failure and despair, or suggest children thriving. 

A list of some of the Milwaukee childcare centers from a Google search
A Passion of Kids Childcare
A Little Attention Day Care
A Mother’s Love
A Promise of Hope Academy
A Step into Heaven Learning
A Step Up Childcare
Angelic Care Childcare LLC
About our Kidz Development/Learning
Academically Bound Child Care
Academics R Us
All About Me Child Care
Alice & Wonderful Land Learning Center
All God’s Children
All Night Child Care I & II
All Our Kids Childcare
All Walks of Life Child Care
Amazing Grace Childcare
Angel Care Day Care
Angelic Care Day Care
Angels Tiny Tots Child Care
Angels Watching Over You Child Care
Anointed Child Care Services
Apple Tree Artistic Learning Center
Atonement Early Childhood Center
Babes in Joyland
Bee-lievers Day Care
Beautiful Beginnings
Before and After Child Care
Beginning to Blossom
Benevolent Child Care
Big Babies Play House
Big Bird Little Bird Daycare
Blue Moon Child Care
Bright Beginnings Children’s Center
Bright Horizons
Bumble Bee Learning Center
Chanel & Moe-Moe’s Daycare
Charlotte’s Web Crawlers
Cherish The Kids Day Care
Children of America
Children Are the Future Child Care
Children in Heavenly Hands Childcare
Children of the Future
Children of The Kingdom Academy
Children’s Edu-Care
Children Fantasy Childcare & Learning Center
Children’s Imagination Station II
Children’s Pantry Family Resource Center
Children’s Place of Joy
Child’s Land
Circle of Life Child Care
Come Learn with Me
Coral Bells Learning Center
Cradles Cribs & Crayons
Daddie’s Day Care
Danita’s Loving Hands Two
Dee’s Loving Childcare
Destiny’s Playland
Destiny’s Child Christian Academy
Dollie Little Darlings
Dreamland Childcare
Esperanza Del Futuro Child Care
Excellent Academy
Extra Loving Day Care
Eyes on God Day Care
Falling into Loving Arms
First Class Child Care
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Follow Your Dream Child Care Center
Follow the Nurturing Nook
Future Family Day Care
Future of Tomorrow Child Development Center
Genesis I Child Daycare
Gingerbread Daycare
God’s Chosen Child Care & Development Center
God Creation Child Care
God’s Care Child Center
God’s Kidz R Us
Golden Rule Day Care Learning Center
Goldilocks Smart Start
Graham Cracker Childcare Center
Grandma Betty’s Babies
Grandma’s House Day Care Centers
Greater New Birth Child Development
Growing Treasures
Guardian Angel Learning Center
Guarding Your Angels
Happy Days Day Care Center 2
Hart and Starr Teaching and Learning Center
He Cares Christian Day Care
Heaven’s Angels Day Care
Heaven Sent Daycare
Heavenly Arms CC& LC
Home Away From Home
Honey Bears Learning Tree
House of Destiny Little Saints Child Care
I Care Kids Care
In Caring Hands
I HeartKids Childcare
Inspired Kingdom Evangelistic Ministries
Itty Bitty Kiddy City
Jesus Loves Daycare
Jesus Loves Daycare Two
Joyful Love Childcare Center
Joyful Noise Child Care
Jubilee of Colors Too
Just Like Home Family Day Care
Kids Kollege Child Development
Kiddie Academy of Learning
Kid Tech Incorporated
Knowledge Nest Child Care Center
Kids Are Smart
Kids Palace Learning Center
Kidz N Playhouse CC Academy
Kingdom Care Child Care Center
Kids Rule Academy
Kids R Just Kids
Kids R Kreative
Kid’s World
Knowledge IS Power Christian Child Care
Kuddle Care Academy
Kiddie Academy of Learning
Learn Through Love
Lil Dinks & Bubbles
Lil Einstein’s Academy of Excellence
Lil Kings & Queens Child Care 2
Lit’l Scholars Day Care
Little Angel Academy Child Development Center
Little Fish in the Sea Day Care
Little Leaders Learning Center
Little Peoples Academy
Little Peewee Day Care Center
Love at First Sight Learning Academy
Love Laugh & Learn
Love Nest Little Angels I & II
Loveable Miracles
Loving Arms Child Care
Loving a Generation Day Care
Magic Me
Miss Daisy’s Daycare Center
More Precious Thanks Gold Child Care
Most Precious Journee
Most Precious Possessions I & II
Mother Jones Childcare Academy
Mothers Helper Day Care
New Beginnings ChildCare Center Stage 2
New Creation Christian Daycare
New Direction Child Care Center
New Millennium Child Care
Next Generation Child Development
Nursery Scholars
Nurturing Nook Inc.
One Small Step Academy
One Two Three Four Childcare
One Step Ahead Developments
Only God Can Children’s Academy
Open Arms Child Care
Open Hands
Our Child Our Future Learning Center
Our Children First
Our Growing World
Over the Rainbow Family Day Care
Over the Top Learning Academy
Perfecting Kids Academy
Precious Babes Christian Day Care
Precious Moments Childcare Center
Precious Little Angels
Precious Minds & Memories Childcare
Prince of Peace Day Care Center
Princess Family Daycare
Pristine Child Care
Pumkin’s Playland
Quality Life Services Daycare
Ray’s Lil’s Lamb Family Day Care
Rising Star Learning Academy
Rock a Bye Baby Child Care
Roses of Today’s Children
Royal Palace Child Care Center
Safe Haven
Sallie’s Love Land Phase II
ShaNANNYgans Childcare Center of Milwaukee
Shatia’s Love Center
Shining Star Development Center
Shmeka Soul Daycare
Shower of Blessings
Small Wonders
Small Talk University
Smart Kidz
Spirit Life Creative Christian Childcare
Strawberry’s Shortcake Child Development Center
Sugar & Spice Child Care Center
Sun Shine Palace Childcare
Sunrise to Sunset Child Care Center I & II
Superstar Child Care
Tangle’s Just Like Mommy
Teddy Bear Child Care
Teenie Tiny Tots Childcare Center
TenderCare Child Care Center
Through The Eyes of A Child
Tigger Playpen
Tiny Little Creations
Tiny Green Trees
Tippi Toes Child Care Center
Toddle Town
Tomorrow’s Future Early Childhood
Tomorrow’s Leaders Learning Center
Touch of Love Child Care & Learning Center
Toy’s Lil Looney Child Care
Tweety Bird Day Care
Tweety & Tots
Unique 8 Childcare Center
Utopia Child Care Centers
VIP Child Care Services
Victorious Child Care
Watch Me Grow
Wee People Dreamworld Daycare
Wee Willie’s Wonderland
What About the Children
Young Achiever Learning Center
Young Minds Preschool
Your Child My Child


Economic Hardship Reporting Project

Guided by award-winning journalists Barbara Ehrenreich and Alissa Quart, the Economic Hardship Reporting Project is changing the national conversation around both poverty and economic insecurity. Their stories – from narrative features to photo essays and video – put a human face on financial instability.
Launched in 2012, EHRP arose in a bleak climate. Over the past decade, poverty in the U.S. has soared. Despite economic growth, inequality continues to rise. It’s the biggest domestic economic story of our lifetimes: intractable, long-term unemployment, a yawning income gap between the wealthy and the lower middle class, and record numbers of people in poverty.

We look forward to working with EHRP on a project addressing the landscape of daycare.
See another photographic project by Matt Black, The Geography of Poverty.

Photographs with Paint: Sebastian Bremer

Utilizing the artist’s signature style of obsessively applied dots of paint to a photographic surface, and adding etching to his working method, Bremer renders the subjects of this series in a dream-like haze of abstraction. Drawing from Surrealism, Modernism, and Cubism, the artist collages photographs and paintings together to create a seductive labyrinth of entangled bodies and art.
From the series, Ouroboros (2013)
From the series, Schoener Goetterfunken (2010)

Apocalyptic Sublime Landscapes - John Martin

The Last Judgement 1851-3

The Plains of Heaven 1851-3
John Martin's (1789-1854) great triptych, known as the Judgement Series was inspired by St John the Divine's fantastic account of the Last Judgement given in Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. Martin's aim in producing this series was highly Romantic: to express the sublime, apocalyptic force of nature and the helplessness of man to combat God's will. Of all Martin's biblical scenes, this presents his most cataclysmic vision of destruction, featuring an entire city being torn up and thrown into the abyss. 
The Great Day of His Wrath, 1851-3

The Book of Judgement is sealed with seven seals. As each seal is broken, mysterious and terrifying events occur, culminating in the breaking of the sixth seal:
and, lo, there was a great earthquake' and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; | And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. | And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. (Revelation 6:12-14)

Martin follows the biblical description closely, but adds his own sensational effects. A blood-red glow casts an eerie light over the scene. The mountains are transformed into rolling waves of solid rock, crushing any buildings that lie in their wake. Lightning splits the giant boulders which crash towards the dark abyss, and groups of helpless figures tumble inexorably towards oblivion.

The three pictures in the triptych became famous in the years after Martin's death and were toured throughout England and America. They were described as 'The most sublime and extraordinary pictures in the world valued at 8000 guineas' (quoted in Wilson, p.76). Many mezzotints of the pictures were sold, but the vastness and theatricality of Martin's visions now appeared outmoded to the mid-Victorians, and the paintings themselves failed to find a buyer. By the twentieth century, Martin's work had fallen into obscurity and he became known as 'Mad Martin'. In 1935 the triptych was sold for seven pounds and the separate panels dispersed. It was reunited by the Tate in 1974.

Adam Panczuk's social document Karczeby: The Roots of Polish Life

In eastern Poland, the word Karczeb is used to describe a stubborn tree stump as well as a farmer firmly rooted to the land he cultivates. Adam Panczuk's book presents a personal, almost mythological, look at these people and their lives. Through the series we see a deep personal, connection from Panczuk towards his subjects, intermingled with wonderfully personal texts from self admitted Karczeb, Kazimierz Kusznierow. 

Karczeby, 2008-2010

Lewis Hine: Advocate for Child Labor Laws

One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mill. She was 51 inches high. Has been in the mill one year. Sometimes works at night. Runs 4 sides - 48 cents a day. When asked how old she was, she hesitated, then said, "I don't remember," then added confidentially, "I'm not old enough to work, but do just the same." Out of 50 employees, there were ten children about her size. Whitnel, North Carolina.
Lewis Wickes Hine (1874-1940) was born in Oshkosh, WI  studied sociology and became a teacher in New York City where he studied with pioneer social documentarian, Jacob Riis. Hine felt so strongly about the exploitation of children as workers that he became an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. He always captioned his images in order to emphasize and humanize the conditions under which these children toiled. In the first decade of the 20th century. He traveled across the United States photographing the working conditions of children in all types of industries -- coal mines, meat-packing plants,  textile mills, and canneries. Children working at menial urban tasks like shoe shiners, newsboys, and hawkers were also his subjects. Hine's images of working children helped change the nation's labor laws. 
Overview of Child Labor with Hine's captioned photographs can be found at History Place and The National Archives. Find out about contemporary children's who won the Lewis Hine Award.
Furman Owens, 12-years-old. Can't read. Doesn't know his A,B,C's. Said, "Yes I want to learn but can't when I work all the time." Been in the mills 4 years, 3 years in the Olympia Mill. Columbia, South Carolina.

Manuel the young shrimp picker, age 5, and a mountain of child labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year. Understands not a word of English. Biloxi, Mississippi.


The Critique of Reason Exhibition

The Critique of Reason: Romantic Art, 1760-1860, the first major collaborative exhibition between the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. The exhibition's eight thematic sections juxtapose arresting works that reveal the Romantics as attentive explorers of their natural and cultural worlds. The exhibition suggests that the Romantic movement in art was not solely an exploration of introversion and fantasy. In many ways, the Romantics were "attentive explorers of their natural and cultural worlds."

After documenting daycare centers throughout Milwaukee for a number of years,  and encouraged by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, we have begun thinking about the "bigger picture."  From this perspective we were inspired to view this cultural landscape as a collision of well intentioned legislation,  economic reality and unintended consequences creating an opportunities for visual metaphor.
Henry Fuseli, DanaĆ« and Perseus on Seriphos(?),
 ca. 1785–90. Oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery,
University Purchase, Associates in Fine Arts Fund

To learn more, visit the exhibition website.
George Stubbs, A Lion Attacking a Horse, 1762. Oil on canvas. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

A Contemporary Mythographer: Dina Goldstein

Dina Goldstein is a photographer and Pop Surrealist based in Vancouver; for Dina, photography is intended to evoke and wrest feelings of shame, anger, shock, and empathy in order to inspire insight into the human condition.  Her photographic productions are philosophical, satirical, technical, and visually stunning. 

Fallen Princesses takes the “happily ever after” motif and creates metaphor out of the myths of fairy tales, forcing the viewer to contemplate real life: failed dreams, addiction, obesity, cancer, cultural extinction, pollution, war, and the desire for eternal youth. This project exposes the consumerism that immortalizes these stories, and questions the notions of idealism within Pop Culture. Her second large scale project, In The Dollhouse, is a sequential narrative that takes on one of the most powerful symbols of Western culture: the beloved and idealized American couple, Barbie and Ken. Using satire, she subverts the myth of “perfection” by exploring this idealistic childhood construct.