Artist sculpts beautifully haunted dolls from natural materials

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Dolls, by their very nature, can be creepy. In fact, the fear of dolls, pediophobia, has fueled as many nightmares as it has horror movies. Freud posited that children fantasize about dolls coming to life, and psychologist Ernst Jentsch suggested that uncomfortable feelings are incited when there is an intellectual uncertainty about whether an object is alive or not. When an object that one knows to be inanimate resembles a living being, confusion about its nature can stir us in mysterious ways.

Which brings us to the dolls of Karly Perez, which take the cake for "stirring and mysterious." Yet, rather than the eternally perky and plastic dolls that frighten in their potential to wreak havoc by way of an evil alter ego, Perez' ghostly dolls disturb because of their inherent despondency. Seemingly haunted by the fates they've been dealt, they read like some kind of tragic Dickens' heroines, albiet re-imagined by Edward Gorey or Tim Burton. Or the talented Karly Perez, as the case may be.

The ethereal and eerie creatures ooze melancholy, yet they do so in beautiful form. Hand-sculpted with incredible attention to detail, they are a nod to a history of doll-making that puts polymeric Barbies and Monster High dolls to shame. Made with wood clay, stone clay and wood, and embellished with natural fibers and vintage textiles dyed with organic materials, you can see the hand of the artist in every stitch of clothing and every shadow circling the figurines' sad eyes. The eco-friendly lack of garish synthetic materials affords these otherworldy ingenues with more soul than would be possible with plastic, and imparts an authenticity that does nothing but deepen the ways in which they mysteriously stir.

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