ROCHESTER, MN.- The work of making oneself is on-going and part of a tradition of womens work that is integral to a feminine identity. We are the mender of clothes. We are the fixer of holes. We are the makers of the family. We nurture ourselves, our spouses, and our children through craft and cooking. We make and tend with sewing needles, seam rippers, and scissors. These instruments are some of our tools, but so are our bodies. Our bodies are a site of comfort and discomfort, desire and disgust that we share with our partners and children. This act of becoming a mother and making a family was an experience of profound undoing and transformation of my body. These sewing tools and our bodies are, for me, deeply intertwined, and the dolls reference that relationship. In the making of these bodies, I hope to come closer to understanding the relationship I have with my own body.
My first sewing doll was conceived out of confusion, nervousness and uncertainty. I found a material I had never used before. I found objects that I wasnt sure how to manipulate and incorporate. I now had the beginnings of an idea. The first doll was made as a gift that I never intended to keep. This doll had me excited about the potential of the process; the process of making figures I had never seen but inherently knew so well. I obsessively made another and then another, and somewhere along the way I started putting myself into the work.
These sewing dolls are skilled. They possess their own tools. Their tools are working tools. The dolls create, fix mistakes, and shape the world. Mostly, these tools repair. The seam ripper takes apart weakened seams. The tracing wheel defines new parts. The needles knit pieces together. The dolls work. They are in process. The work and the process are not separate from them, but essential. Their instructions are visible in the sewing pattern paper that is their skin. Yet those directions are unclear and interrupted. These dolls are measured and measuring. They are careful in their construction and revelations. They are tasked with fixing themselves, but have to do it by feel and intuition. Their process is my process. It is process of growth, evolution and restoration. The both tend and mend themselves.
Soon a series of animals joined the sewing dolls. I knew I could draw a giraffe, but could I make an object that looked like a giraffe? This question I was asking myself was the beginning of a process to anthropomorphize these dolls, to animate them and give them a life. The giraffe looked like a personality. He looked like a friend. His eyes were sweet and his demeanor was playful. He was gentle and open to exploration. Other animals joined the menagerie. A bird traveled with a suitcase holding an extra set of wings. A cat needed a unicycle. An elephant played in a teacup. These animal dolls formed a perfect counterbalance to the sewing dolls. They seem to me to worry less and live more.
There are six sewing dolls now and six animal dolls. They are a community where each informs the next. The sewing dolls are both interchangeable and individual. Their appendages are attached with a hook and eye so that they can be removed and shared. I imagine they have a life together when the darkness comes. It is a life of small repairs. Nicole Havekost
Nicole Havekost (b. 1970) is an artist currently working and living in Rochester, MN. She earned her BFA in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI as an undergraduate. She then earned her MFA in printmaking from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM.
After graduating, Nicole moved with her husband to Michigan. She taught Drawing and Printmaking at both Adrian College in Adrian, MI and Sienna Heights University in Jackson, MI for ten years. After becoming a mother and relocating to Minnesota, Nicole has had more time for her creative work. She has exhibited her work in Colorado, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Illinois. She was an artist in residence at the prestigious Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT, in (1997).