Saturday, October 24, 2009

Twisted Minds Think Alike

The story of "Gwen" the new American Girl doll who, as it turns out at the end of the accompanying book, is homeless, finally hit NPR last week.  After hearing people voice their opinions on what I see as a complete and total non-controversy (well, except for the $95 price-tag on the doll alone), I inevitably started thinking: you know, what images we expose our children to, what we should hide from them, what constitutes "promoting" something, blah, blah, blah...

As usual, my thoughts followed a tangential path and I came up with what I THOUGHT was a terrific idea for a painting: Teen Pregnancy Barbie. I spent quite a bit time brainstorming and sketching ideas for her clothing (hot pink half shirt with "Porn Star" in crystals). I also thought up all kinds of extras and accessories: "Baby Daddy Ken" (not included, of course), maternity prom gowns and several other things that Ron and I thought struck the perfect balance between offensively funny and socially significant.

So today, while searching the internet for pictures of Barbie's face (I don't own an actual Mattel Barbie doll - why would I?), the funny all came crashing down.

I discovered that an artist by the name of Nina Westerberg created a multimedia art project called, yep, you guessed it, "Teen Pregnancy Barbie."

Here's a link to Nina's PowerPoint presentation.

At first, I felt terribly chagrined and, for lack of a better word, "uncool" for not having known about this piece earlier.  On the other hand, I did come up with the idea independently (albeit 3+ years late), and it turned out to be one that got people pretty worked up.

This lack of knowledge about what has and hasn't been done before makes me want to take a series of art history classes - starting with the Dutch Masters and going right through to current performance, Pop Art and Low Brow stuff.  Not that such information would prevent me from making another time-consuming near mis-step, but at least I wouldn't come across as Little Miss Smugly Defensive like Kenley "but I don't look at other designers" Collins from season 5 of Project Runway.

Well, I guess that's it for today.  Back to the idea pool, I guess.