Memorial Dolls

August 8, 2007 at 2:20 pm (art, frightening things) ()

One of the strangest things I’ve seen all week is this audio slide show about Jennifer Stocks-Dearborn and the very realistic looking clay babies she makes for those whose infants have died. I know everyone mourns differently and that it’s a difficult process, and that if there’s anything that can make it easier that isn’t problematic for anyone else involved, then alright, that’s fine, but…I feel like there’s a “but” in there somewhere, in this case. I don’t know…

Via Boing Boing.



  1. J stocks-Dearborn said,

    “but”……explain????? “But” doesn’t make sense — “Why” does.

    Feel free to ask me any questions about what I do. I am an open and honest person. And that goes for anyone else reading this blog who is bothered with unanswered questions — email me and ask, simple as that.


  2. J stocks-Dearborn said,

    Emily, I read your post this morning…..
    It’s okay — I need to learn how to take the good with the bad. This is life — People are allowed their opinions. Please understand that this whole being in the public’s eye is very new to me, and I’m learning how to handle it all. I never thought that what I do would be a topic in anyone’s conversations, never the less read blogs about it on the internet. But here we are.

    I understand that my Art is confusing to you, and I really do appreciate your honesty. If you want to learn about what goes into my work, and what helped me find that creative edge to start sculpting babies, I invite you to poke around my website. I have tried to explain my heart on the pages that I have listed there. I am an open person and I would be happy to answer any questions that you might have. All you have to do is ask. :o)

    As far as my Blog post, I’m over it. I ranted to myself and I have see the “light”, I have to look at the big picture — I love what I do. How many people are able to stay at home with their kids & work when they want too? How many people out there can say that they are internally driven to work? I can. So with that being said I can’t complain . Yes there are going to be people that don’t understand my work, there are going to be people who think it’s odd and distrubing, but there are also people out there that are helped by what I do. That look forward to this small momento that reminds then of their loss. Please note that my Memorial pieces are just half of what I do. I make dolls, plain and simple. I have 3 pieces that are in China being reproduced into vinyl — these “dolls” will become toys, not much unlike the ones you or I played with as children. It’s because this, my ability to sculpt a semi life like baby, that I have fallen into the roll of making Memorial pieces. Not every artist can do the Memorial pieces b/c it’s just too sad. I can because I have been there — I know that pain, and I am happy that I can offer this service to these familes.

    In the end I guess that I needed to vent and get grumpy to see the whole picture. I wasn’t pointing a finger at you and your one post, it was a compilation of posts that was bothering me.

    Peace, Jenn

  3. Brandy said,


    Having known Jenn for most of my life, she is like a sister, and although I don’t think she needs protecting, I just have a few things to say.

    Having been as close to loosing a child as I ever want to be, I can fully appreciate the gift that Jenn provides to the memorial community.

    My daughter has Congenital Heart Defects, and she has had 4 open heart surgeries. Each time she goes into surgery, there is a chance she might not make it out. With that in mind…having been at the hospital bed of many other moms going through the same kind of health issues..I have seen many beautiful angels return to God. And it is very hard as a mom whose little girl is here to help them with their pain. Because the bottom line is I feel guilty that I have something they don’t have…my child.

    If you have children, and if you have ever taken that ER/ambulance ride into surgery, you would know how this feels. The total lack of control. Jenn has made a “pocket baby” sculpt (that fits in my hand when I make a fist), and it has helped at times to have something “tangible” to hold onto, when I have control over nothing else.

    I think you should read the story about Maddie before you post anymore topics about Jenn’s work.

    And just for the record, because I was there, Jenn originally started making dolls as a healing process for her, and when mothers started seeing them, they ASKED her to make memorial pieces for them. I beleive she also donates the proceeds from the memorial pieces to The Simons Project (VT SIDS Support Organization).

  4. Daisy said,

    Hi Brandy, I blog here with Emily. She’ll speak for herself when she gets the chance, but I’d like to note that her post contains no real criticism of the work in question. She posted about it because she found it interesting. She had an emotional response to it. That’s what good art does. It makes people think and feel things. The fact that Ms. Stocks-Dearborn’s work is both personally meaningful and publicly provocative is, in my opinion, an excellent indicator of its tremendous creative value and success. This post is a compliment — an honest one.

    Neither Emily nor I would ever try to deny a person the space and resources she needs to grieve. But we do both spend a lot of time looking at, thinking about, responding to, and blogging about unusual art projects. That is all that is happening here. Emily made her good will to Ms. Stocks-Dearborn clear at her blog; I feel the same way. Helping hurt people is probably the best work anyone can do — Jennifer Stocks-Dearborn should be incredibly proud of herself for doing that, for transforming her tragedy into a service to others.

  5. Emily said,

    Daisy responded basically in the same way that I would have had I read your comment before her. My post was meant to draw attention to something I stumbled upon and found interesting, not to imply anything about Jenn, her work, or her motivation. I can see how my reaction to it, as something unusual and unknown and initially a little disconcerting to me, might be perceived as negative…but it really wasn’t supposed to be. I’m sorry for the confusion, and hope that all the bad feelings that have resulted from my word choice can be left in the past.

  6. jane said,

    hi ,i just want to say that i also sculpt realistic babies all the way up here in Scotland and have lost count of the number of emails ive received asking me to sculpt a little baby to be kept in memory of a lost child…i consider it an honour to be asked and thrilled that i may be able to create something that will be treasured and may even bring a little comfort to someone who has suffered such a tragic loss…. there is obviously a need for this kind of art for some people, although i do understand how it may seem a little “morbid” ? if thats the right word to others.

    ps i didnt find anything offensive in the original post :) just wanted to give another artists point of view.

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