Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dare Wright, Dolls, Photography, and the Psyche

Ace e725 Correspondent, Tria Andrews, checks in with a moving and evocative dispatch that fuses select, nuanced elements of our seminar's obsessions:

From: "Tria Andrews"
To: bnericci@mail.sdsu.edu
Subject: e725 Dare Wright

Dr. Nericcio,

I have recently finished reading a wonderful biography--Jean Nathan's The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright. The biography is not only fascinating, but entirely relevant to our course studies. Dare Wright wrote a series of morbidly enchanting children's books in which she photographed dolls and stuffed bears. She also, like Cindy Sherman (whom another classmate wrote in about earlier this semester), took many self-portraits, some of which she appeared arguably as herself and others, in which she appeared as someone else--muse, mermaid, dead girl.

Wright's life is highly problematic. As a child, she posed for countless hours while her mother, a renowned artist, painted her photograph. The two had a close--almost incestuous relationship. Wright, who never married and eventually lost her mother was, as the title of the biography points up, herself a lonely doll. Friends of the Wrights recall that they were always hungry when visiting. Mother and daughter were not interested in food or even so much social interaction as they were at playing elaborate dress up. Wright even painted the floor of her apartment so that it appeared to be black and white tile and not the hardwood that it was. Visitors marveled at the realism of the facade.

The woman, the woman-child, and the child as doll. What could be more relevant to our discussion than a real life example? And the entrapment of Wright, her sad, sad decline as she and her mother aged--could no longer continue their respective rolls--is none other than tragedy.

I do hope some people will look into Dare. She is one of my favorites.


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