Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Lonely Doll

About a year ago, Fiona and I checked out a book from the library. It was called Edith and Mr. Bear, and I was immediately enchanted by the story. Edith could have been me as a child: a natural liar, fearful, pouting, charming. She was an utterly believable child. And the photographs looked so real that I had to marvel at them. We sought out other Edith books, and bought the first in the series, The Lonely Doll, for Christmas.

On that shopping expedition, I found a book I couldn’t afford at the time. Called The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll, it was a biography of the enigmatic photographer who captured the story of Edith and her bear companions. I finally read it this weekend. I was blown away by Dare Wright and her life’s story. It was not a happy life, but it shared something with the lives of other women I have admired, and I found it inspiring.

Dare, like my heroes Tasha Tudor, Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo (of course Frida, and always Frida!), crafted a world that supplemented her own specially grown identity. She spent her lifetime carefully pruning her self to make a creature as desirable and as adorable as a doll, and she tweaked her surroundings to support that fantasy creation. And while that eventually led to her own miserable ending, I can’t help but admire the achievement. What strength of will to change the world to suit yourself!

Side note: I began painting yesterday and could do no wrong. Today, I practically butchered the damn thing. Why, why are hands so hard?

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