Galerie Marie

Galerie Marie

About The Artist

Kimberly Camp • Collingswood, NJ

I started making dolls almost 40 years ago. In 1989 I began making one-of-a-kind dolls with clay, leather, wood, beads, feathers and textiles from around the world. I begin with making heads, faces, hands and feet, then let each head tell me what it wants to be. They reflect diverse spiritual and cultural influences. In 2020 I won an American Craft Council Award of Excellence and in 2021, the Gold Prize Best of Show at Peters Valley Craft Fair in New Jersey.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

I hand-sculpt heads, hands and feet from various clay bodies. I also have original work from which I made slip-casting molds for porcelain. I use various materials for body construction and adornment, including recycled furs, leather, silk, raffia, feathers, cotton, beads, shells, teeth, and more collected over years from around the world. Once heads and appendages are fired/cured, baked and dried, I select a head and let it dictate what body and adornment it demands. The dolls are constructed intuitively, with each step being an invention based on the last. Once completed, I attach loops for hanging or custom made wooden stands. Some are free-standing with three - five or more legs.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

I am thrilled by the diversity of materials I can combine to make dolls. Having worked in the museum field for over 25 years, I have witnessed cultures from around the world, and their connections to materials that function as elements of identity. I love recycling furs before they are thrown in the trash, which is my way of honoring the animals murdered for adornment. I am constantly amazed when at craft shows one in four people ask me if I make all of them, because they are so complex. However, it's their complexity that is exciting. While I sometimes do sketches in advance of construction, the majority are made intuitively. It is common to hear me laughing to myself as they dictate to me what they will be. I don't use any patterns for bodies or clothing - all are free-form cut from the plethora of materials I have on hand in my studio. Some are human form; others anthropomorphic - bears and cats in skirts, fish with human faces, etc. Most importantly I have fun at every step!

What is something unique about you or your practice?

Far too many attempt to pigeon-hole me as a "Black" artist. Some of the work reflects African American culture, but most reflects a profound mixing of various cultures and spiritual practices. People seem surprised that I make all aspects of the dolls - sculpting, designing, adorning, sewing, etc. The only time I make patterns to use is when I am working with skins or hand woven/dyed imported textiles to ensure that I am not wasting anything. My simultaneous work as a museum leader for 25 years further informs the breadth of my aesthetic vocabulary. I began as a painter over 50 years ago and still produce paintings as much as a I make dolls. When asked if I do craft or fine art I answer "Yes!" I managed to keep my work separated - people who know I make dolls don't know I paint, people who know me as a museum president never knew I was a working artist.