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Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Colby Katz's "Forever Babies" Makes Skin Crawl at Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art

Katz's pictures are of lifeless dolls, fawned over and pampered by heartbroken parents. They are not the classical memento mori photos popular during the Victorian era when child mortality rates were high and when families had postmortem snaps taken of their dead loved ones as keepsakes.

Katz discovered these types of dolls, called "reborn dolls," in a newspaper several years ago. The article mentioned that some collectors coveted the handpainted dolls that appeared lifelike and took months to create. The figures are painstakingly painted to achieve the right skin tones, and each strand of hair is inserted individually.

While conducting research on the artists who make these dolls, Katz learned that some women were ordering lifelike effigies of their children who had passed away. Katz visited first the artists' studios and later the families of the "forever babies" in their homes in South Dakota, Texas, and Florida, where she took the photographs on exhibit.

To make the doll, the artists used pictures of the living babies. Some of the artists, Katz informs, keep scrapbooks or bulletin boards in their studios with close-up pictures of fingernails, veining, and feet to help them achieve the finest of details, which sometimes cannot be seen in the photo a mom sends in.

Katz also found out that some grieving parents have the dolls weighted to replicate the exact pounds the real child weighed at birth. Some have a sound button inserted into the dolls to mimic a beating heart, while others request that their child's ashes be sewn inside the doll.

The mother of a healthy toddler, Katz did not alter her portraits in any way. Rather, she entered the homes of the families unobtrusively to shoot her pictures with an unflinching gaze.

Take a close look at Katz's portrait of Aubrey and you'll notice not only the pacifier and uncomfortable grimace but also a hip defect.

Her arresting pictures of these morbid moppets reveal the artists' keen eye for subject matter outside of the mainstream and one of the more uncommon grief rituals helping bereft families heal. After their owners' complete their grieving process, some of these dolls end up on eBay, where collectors highly covet them.

Katz's photos are a revelation that will undoubtedly stick in your head long after you exit the space. It's a show not to be missed.

See "Forever Babies" at Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art (158 NW 91st St., Miami) through October 30. Call 305-490-6906 or visit 
this was an idea i had for the ART GONE WILD Art Show here in Olahoma, except id do Primates (gorilla, Chimp, and Orangutan) and have them for sale...or donates to the show for proceeds to go towards the zoo.)

ive also thought of showing different versions of these  reborns, for instance a vampire, warewolf, zombie, etc  during some horror-fest someplace and have them for sale.

as well as have a few realistic babies done and dressed in train overalls, with an engineer hat, holding a train toy for the DOLL & TRAIN Show here in Oklahoma City, OK

this IS an art...
should be respected as such.


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