December 2014 / Doll Show / January 2015

The 34th Annual Black Doll Show- A League Supreme – Jazz Superheroes

The William Grant Still Arts Center Presentsleaguefront

34th Annual Black Doll Show –

A League Supreme – Jazz Superheroes

December 13, 2014-February 14, 2015

Opening Reception: December 13, 3:00-6:00pm

Curated by Keisa Davis

For its 34th Annual Black Doll Show, The William Grant Still Arts Center will move outside its traditional boundaries and transform itself into the fictional uncolonized African nation, inspired by Wakanda, the Marvel Comic Universe. Over seventy-five unique handmade and collector dolls and media art— Black superheroes past and present, from comic book icons to an inspiring superhero league of jazz musicians— will be showcased in this futuristic fantasy-scape rich with the mineral vibranium, advanced African technologies, and ancient traditions. This annual Black Doll Show will open on Saturday, December 13 from 3-6pm, with live music performed by Marcus Miller Freedom Jazz Movement, influenced by the work of the artists in the show and, of course, classic jazz music too. The exhibition, curated by Keisa Davis from an open call for dolls and media art, will run from December 13-February 14.

A League Supreme- Jazz Superheroes refers to an alliance of Jazz musician superheroes that serve humankind using the powers of sound and word. As superhuman royalty, the League joins forces with warrior King T’Challa (Black Panther) and Queen Ororo (Storm) to protect the country and its people from The Zombots, a group of international developer robots plotting to gentrify communities.

The vision of A League Supreme- Jazz Superheroes is to not only include a more contemporary look at Black dolls, toys, and constructed images, but to move beyond gender- based toys and be inclusive of what youth see and connect with today.

The exhibition includes murals by Patrick H. Johnson, AISE, and Jessica Reid, and dolls by Patricia Shivers, Dale Guy Madison, and Fana Babadayo, as well as the work of doll artists new to the show. The show will also include futuristic media art by visual artists Ronda Brown, Jabari Hall Smith, Sankofa and Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vaca.

Learn and practice doll making at three Saturday doll making workshops on December 20, January 17, and February 7 from 2-4pm. The workshops will be taught by long time community members and participants in the Black Doll Show Dr. Cynthia Davis, Teresa Tolliver, and Cheryl Williams.

About the Black Doll Show:

The Black Doll Show at The William Grant Still Arts Center was started in 1980 by the Friends of William Grant Still Arts Center, with artist Cecil Fergerson as its first curator.  Inspired by the “Black Doll Test” conducted in the 1940s by pioneering psychologists Mamie and Kenneth Clark that concluded that many African-American children preferred playing with white dolls over black dolls, The Black Doll Show at the Center is the longest-running display of black dolls in Los Angeles. Collectors and doll artists return time and time again to offer dolls from their collections that fit with the year’s theme. At its root, it is a time for community to come together to celebrate the collections and contributions each individual has made to doll making and collecting over the years.

About the Guest Curator:

Keisa Davis is an educator and community programs producer, and a native of Crenshaw district. She also works as the Education Coordinator at The William Grant Still Arts Center, with a background in media arts.


Exhibition Dates: 

December 13, 2014-February 14, 2015

Opening Reception:

Saturday, December 13, 3:00-6:00pm

Live Music By Marcus Miller Freedom Jazz Ensemble

Saturday Dollmaking Workshops:     

December 20, 2:00-4:00p.m. – All Ages Workshop: Dolls of Hope Instructor: Dr. Cynthia Davis

January 17,  2:00-4:00p.m.– Childrens’ Workshop: Mixed Media Superheroes Instructor: Teresa Tolliver

February 7,  2:00-4:00p.m.All Ages Workshop: Recyclable Arts, Instructor: Cheryl Williams

*materials fee may apply for some workshops