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Lilly Library

Paper Dolls by Sylvia Plath

Well-known as one of the Lilly Library’s manuscript treasures is the collection of the papers of poet Sylvia Plath. Perhaps less well-known, but very engaging are her works of juvenile art, particularly her paper dolls, currently the centerpiece of an exhibition at the Owens Art Gallery, in Sackville, New Brunswick. We were very pleased to participate in this exhibit, guest curated by Dr. Anne Koval, associate professor in the fine arts department at Mount Allison University in Sackville. Dr. Koval discovered the handmade paper dolls and doll’s clothes in the Plath Archive of juvenilia during a visit to the Lilly.

The exhibition also showcases the responses of several well-known contemporary artists to the paper dolls, including an early short film by Cindy Sherman, a new immersive installation by Ed Pien, exquisite miniatures by Cybèle Young, large scale steel-cut dresses by Barb Hunt, the colourful embroideries of Anna Torma, an installation of cutouts by Jeannie Thib and the ephemeral paper doll chains of Lynne Yamamoto.

The exhibition opened September 16th and is scheduled to run until November 6th 2011 at the Owens Art Gallery. It then will travel to the Mendel Gallery (Saskatoon, SK) in spring 2012 accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with an essay by the curator, produced with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, artsnb and a CultureWorks Development Grant from Mount Allison University. We would also like to express our appreciation to the Sylvia Plath Estate for their support and kind permission to exhibit the paper dolls.

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Images courtesy of Canada’s Telegraph-Journal. Read their article about the Owens’ exhibition here.