Talking back to Barbie at 070 Photographer explores toys, culture and art

An exhibition of work by John Sloan, “Almost Perfect,” will open with an artist’s reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 3. The exhibit, billed as “a photographic exploration into the manufactured culture of stereotypes and desire found in children’s toys,” will remain on view through July 26.

  • Tuesday, July 1, 2008 5:42pm
  • Arts
John Sloan used dolls on location to create his new show

John Sloan used dolls on location to create his new show

An exhibition of work by John Sloan, “Almost Perfect,” will open with an artist’s reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 3. The exhibit, billed as “a photographic exploration into the manufactured culture of stereotypes and desire found in children’s toys,” will remain on view through July 26.

Barbie and Bratz dolls say a lot about our culture, even though they can’t speak. Sloan heard them loud and clear a few years ago after a conversation with friends at Western Washington University, where he earned a fine arts degree in studio art photography.

“My two best friends were discussing the fact that they both had eating disorders when they were younger. One of them told me a story of how she used to stare at herself in the mirror and compare herself to the Barbie doll she held in her hand. I have two daughters, and when I went home that day I took my oldest daughter’s Barbie and threw it in the trash,” said Sloan.

In his heart, he knew this gesture wouldn’t solve anything, and issues he had never considered would now become a part of his life.

To do this work, which centered on the iconic Barbie and the popular Bratz dolls, Sloan, a Bellingham resident, had to get in touch with the imagination he had when he was a kid. He discovered the only way he could get the images to work was to create the sets in the same way that his daughters play with dolls.

“This was one of the hardest things for me to do,” he said.

Sloan uses a combination of classical and digital techniques to create the scenes. Several of his photographs use other images as backdrops and are reminiscent of old Hollywood movie stills.

Besides creating sets, Sloan also photographs the dolls on location. The strangest experience he had was when he photographed “Barbie Values” outside Nordstrom. His model was a Barbie hairstyling head on a tripod placed so that it looked like she was just coming out of the store.

“My original plan was to begin photographing this shot before the store opened, but something came up. While I was setting up the shot a couple of women were walking out of the store, and they asked me what I was doing. During the explanation, a small crowd started to gather around me. One woman said Barbie wouldn’t shop at Nordstrom. She’d shop at JC Penney. A big discussion began about where Barbie would shop. I continued setting up and managed to take the shot just as mall security was arriving.”

Gallery 070 is open 11 a.m until 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, or by appointment.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@vashonbeachcomber.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.vashonbeachcomber.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Arts

x
Talks, Music and Divine Drag Are on the Way From VCA

The arts center is offering everything from cabaret to classical music to informative lectures.

x
First Friday Means Vibrant New Exhibitions on Vashon

New exhibitions are opening in local art spots.

x
Late-Night Show Opens a New Season, an Hour Earlier

“Having a Voice on Vashon” will feature Susan McCabe from Voice of Vashon and singer Máire Kennan.

x
Ghosts of Readers Past Can Haunt the Page of Old Books

There on this small sheet torn from a notebook was the echo of two lives lived long ago.

x
Arts Center Makes an Important Hire

Erika Carleton will serve as Vashon Center for the Art’s new development director

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country
Car review: 2021 Chevy Tahoe 4WD High Country

By Larry Lark, contributor Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for short, in the… Continue reading

2021 Lexus NX 300h
Car review: 2021 Lexus NX 300h

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 Lexus NX 300h luxury sports utility… Continue reading

x
Gansango Music Dance To Perform in Live-Streamed Show

The company draws on music and movement traditions from across the African continent.

x
What’s Happening Jan. 28 – Feb. 4

A Broadway-themed benefit concert, celebrate Valentine’s Day with “Savage/Love,” and more.

x
Doctor To Detail Days of ‘Compassion Amidst the Chaos’

The book is a reflection on a long career and on accomplishments and adventures along the way.

2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL
Car review: 2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL

By Larry Lark, contributor Compact sedans are not in vogue now, but… Continue reading

2020 Honda Insight. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2020 Honda Insight

By Larry Lark, contributor Honda’s Civic and Accord have been bestsellers for… Continue reading