Culture Art & Media 8 Artists Transforming Abandoned Dolls Into Surreal Art By Melissa Breyer Editorial Director Hunter College F.I.T., State University of New York Cornell University Melissa Breyer is Treehugger’s editorial director. She is a sustainability expert and author whose work has been published by the New York Times and National Geographic, among others. our editorial process Melissa Breyer Updated January 04, 2013 credit: Flicr/julesjulesjules m Share Twitter Pinterest Email Culture History Travel Sustainable Fashion Art & Media Holidays Community There's no denying it, dolls can have a creepy side. There's the whole "lifeless baby that looks way too real" part, and then there's the "it will surely come to life in the middle of the night and wreak evil" part. Which is why dolls have such wonderful potential in surrealist art — they tease that perfect balance between desire and revulsion. But they can also play a stellar role in sustainable art, since there are legions of dolls retired from the whims of their child mommies and headed for the landfill. The artists whose work is shown in this list have all given new life to old limbs, keeping them out of the trash, and alive in our sometimes-nightmarish-sometimes-innocent dreams. 1 of 9 Hans Bellmer credit: Hans Bellmer/YouTube The granddaddy of doll parts art, German-born surrealist Hans Bellmer (1902--1975) used old mannequin segments to create his dolls whose provocative eroticism struck a blow against the tyranny and authority that was unfolding in Germany during the 1930s. Few of his successors have achieved such haunting effects. 2 of 9 Freya Jobbins credit: Laura Moore and Mark Pokody Australian artist Freya Jobbins recycles Barbie, her date Ken, and any number of other molded babies and employs them as the medium for her sculpture. "My work explores the relationship between consumerist fetishism and the emerging recycling culture within the visual arts," says Jobbins. 3 of 9 Queen of Spades credit: Flickr/happymrlocust Flickr photographer happymrlocust displays old plastic doll parts combined with wire, clay, and beads that were created for a series he produced which was inspired by a deck of cards. 4 of 9 Erika Warren credit: Erika Warren Artist and vintage tidbit collector, Erika Warren repurposes her trinkets and treasures into new creations, often incorporating bits and pieces of dolls into the mix, as in her curious pedestals like this one, which houses a tillandsia air plant. 5 of 9 Erika Warren credit: Erika Warren Another way in which Erika Warren puts old dolls to work is in jewelry, where lilliputian limbs and little heads do their duty in adornment. 6 of 9 John Beinart credit: Jon Beinart Jon Beinart paints, draws, and publishes books, but he is probably best known for his Toddlerpede sculptures, the wonderfully creepy, copiously limbed critters created from the many, many bits o' babies which he solicits from people done with their dolls. 7 of 9 Margaux Lange credit: Margaux Lange Designer Margaux Lange excises perfect features from perfect Barbie dolls and deftly incorporates them into her "Plastic Body Series," a collection of jewelry comprised of salvaged dolls, hand-fabricated sterling silver, and pigmented resins. 8 of 9 Chris Jordan credit: Migrated Image The extraordinary work of photographic artist Chris Jordan explores excess and its sad, poignant effects. In his series "Running the Numbers," one of the sets uses 32,000 Barbies -- which is equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the U.S. in 2006 -- to create a fascinating mosaic image that gets at the heart of the matter. 9 of 9 Mark Hogancamp credit: CinemaGuild/YouTube No collection of dolls in art would be complete without the mention of the master of the doll universe, Mark Hogancamp. Upon surviving a vicious assault that left him brain-damaged and broke, Hogancamp resorted to the incredible world of "Marwencol," a 1/6th scale World War II-era town that he has created in his backyard. Inhabited by legions of GI Joe, Barbie, and other assorted dolls, the world seems to be truly alive to its creator, as well as to many of it viewers. See for yourself in this trailer for Marwencol, a documentary about the man and his wonderful, magical, mystical world.