Sally Stevenson, ONE OF OUR FEATURED ARTISTS July 2016, Has a Q&A
AC: Tell us of your journey from receiving an art degree in sculpture to making your art dolls.
SS: My degree in sculpture taught me how to transform a design into a three-dimensional object. Bending metal is an awesome and rewarding experience, but for me also a dangerous one. I can't tell you the number of times I burnt myself. My husband finally impressed upon me the need to find a different outlet for my art. After visiting an art doll exhibit at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft I had found that new outlet. Skills and techniques that I had studied and developed throughout my life like metal and clay sculpting, painting, costuming etc. all came together in one art form. We had adopted three ethnic boys who were now teenagers and interested in girls. In an attempt to help them understand the heritage I began researching their culture and discovered many exceptional ethnic women. I decided to create dolls that represented the specific characteristics of these women. What happened next was amazing. As the boys brought their girlfriends over and they saw the dolls they were stunned that they had never heard of these powerful women. The dolls opened up a new positive conversation on ethic role models in today’s society. I have continued to make dolls that I hope will influence the way the viewer sees his or her world.
AC: Are there any well-known artists that influence your art style?
SS: Ankie Daanen, Annadan, and Elena Kunin. Each of these artists has influenced my art style either by design, sculpture techniques or costuming. Doll artists are unique in their desire to share their art doll making knowledge and techniques.
AC: How is your approach to making art dolls different than that of other artists making dolls?
SS: I think that my approach to creating art dolls is different from other art doll artists in that I do a tremendous amount of research on each piece. I try to make every detail as accurate as possible, for example my Knight Templar piece is accurate down to the spurs on his boots or that the Time Keeper piece stays true to the 19th century Victorian style and the incorporation of technology.
AC: What is the most rewarding part of being an artist? Or rather, what is the impetus to live this life that you have chosen?
SS: I have always wanted to be a full-time artist, but because of other obligations, a husband, eight children and a corporate executive I was not able to devote the time it would take to accomplish that goal. Now that I am retired I am now able fulfill that goal and do what I love.
AC: Tell what influence if any being the mother to 8 children (including 3 by adoption) and grandmother to 10 has had on the design of your dolls.
SS: In my case having a husband and eight children automatically adds nine people to your cheering section. My husband is my best friend and my best critic. My only daughter has encouraged me, almost ruthlessly, to follow my dream of being a full-time artist. My son's, all seven of them, are continually coming up with ideas, buying me equipment, developing webpages and social media feeds. All In all they are the best influence and support group an artist could have.