Stephen A. Rausch
After 30 years designing stage & character costumes for every type of production imaginable from opera & ballet to musical theatre to “Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey’s” Clown College, designing and creating Art Dolls seems to be a logical progression of artistic expression. Each figure is unique in both style and costume and, hopefully, will give the viewer as much enjoyment as I have had in the creation.
Completely self-taught, I bring my experience in costume design, knowledge of pattern drafting and love of historical clothing to the discipline of the Art Doll. It’s all about the pose and the costume, the former complimenting the latter and combining to tell a story, capture a snapshot in time or create an attitude. And “attitude” is the word most often used to describe my figures. I pay particular attention to recreating the period cut of the costume, including the appropriate underpinnings, to get an accurate representation of the garments and accessories.
Cloth is my chosen medium. When starting out it seemed to be less intimidating than polymer clay or porcelain. Perhaps it was simply the fact that I am more familiar with the inherent properties of cloth that made it seem the logical choice for me. And experimentation is always a part of each creation. As in theatre, things aren’t always as they appear to be. In each piece I try to use new techniques or materials not only to achieve just the right mood, but also to expand my artistic repertoire. Fabric embellishment or fabric deconstruction are important aspects of my work.
In short, I view my work as fiber sculpture. A fascination with high-end department store mannequins, my discovery of the “Theatre de la Mode” exhibit and an interest in the fashion dolls of the late 18th and early 19th centuries combined with my admiration for the work of several preeminent contemporary doll artists prompted me to try my hand at creating art dolls. And I have been pursuing my muse since 2006.