Black Doll Show

Call for Dolls – September 11, 2017 – November 10, 2017 for the 37th Annual Black Doll Exhibit (extension added)

stepanie dolls.jpg
dolls by Stephanie Moore

37th Annual Black Doll Exhibit – December 9, 2017 – February 17, 2018
Call for Dolls – September 11, 2017 – November 10, 2017

The William Grant Arts Center is in the process of selection for its 37th annual Black Doll Show. With this year’s theme, “Jubilee, Celebrations in Color” we are celebrating Black life, shown through the creative display and artistry of dolls, miniatures and altered art. This year’s guest curator is Stephanie Moore, educator, avid doll and miniature collector and budding doll artist.


The Black doll show was inspired by a doll test conducted by Mamie and Kenneth Clark. The tests concluded that due to social stigmas, many black children preferred white dolls over black dolls. This test went on to become evidence in civil rights law suits.  The Clarks became expert witnesses in Brown vs. Board of education and helped the landmark decision to desegregate schools. This doll test was conducted again in 2006 by 17year old filmmaker Kiri Davis, sadly with the same results.

Inspired by the doll test, artist/curator Cecil Fergerson started the Black Doll show in the 80s. Wanting to change the negative self-image, Fergerson brought together handmade dolls by artists around the country into one exhibit. Through its many transformations, the Black Doll Show has been a celebration of Black dolls from slavery, Jim Crow, freedom marches, music, dance, jazz, hip-hop and more.


This year’s theme, Jubilee, “Celebrations in Color” chosen by the curator, seeks to showcase Black life as a celebration of events that are monumental and small, ordinary, and extraordinary, events that depict Black life in all its facets. On a deeper level this year’s theme seeks to explore “cultural image” as depicted through the beauty and diversity of dolls. It seeks to “reshape” the dialog on Black Life & Identity as portrayed in media and in dominant society through highlighting how the Black community sees itself as portrayed in the traditional rites of passage and cultural events that have shaped it.

As a collector, Stephanie has always been fascinated by dolls and miniatures and their often mirror reflection of the human experience. She unashamedly admits that first and foremost she is a “Lover of All Things Doll”.. This love and passion for dolls brings with it a certain perspective that as curator she hopes will engage participants and visitors alike. 





The Definitions of Jubilee Are:

A season of celebration

A year of emancipation and restoration

Anniversaries of special events

We are specifically looking for Black dolls that represent and depict people of color celebrating life’s small and large events. There are a few restrictions on size. Priority will be given to doll artist who create hand made dolls specifically for this exhibit. Though we would like as many original, handmade or artist dolls as possible, we will also take collectible commercial dolls.

Dolls submitted for consideration should clearly depict one of life’s celebrations within the African American diaspora. Submission can include single dolls or dolls in group settings.

Specific Categories we are looking for are dolls that represent:

  • Holidays – (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, 4th of July, Junteenth, Eid, Kwanza)
  • Celebrations – (Wedding, Anniversary, Graduations, Baptism, First Communion, First Job, Birthdays etc)
  • Rites of Passage & Journeys (Passing time with elders, learning to cook with grandma or mom, camping/fishing with dad, road trip, barbershop with dad, beauty shop with mom, first kiss etc.)
  • Political/Political Statements – (First Black/ Black(s)… – President, Supreme Court – MLK, Malcolm – Huey, Travon, Emancipation, Underground Railroad Black Lives Matter Movement etc.)
  • Miniatures (We are looking to include doll houses and shadow boxes that are created to/ depict the theme)
  • Artists Dolls (Dolls that may be more creative, abstract or non traditional dolls that depict the theme and or challenge notions of Black beauty)


Submission Guidelines – How To Submit – 2017 Doll Show

  1. Please send a JPEG photo of your doll/dolls/related artwork to by November 10, 2017, with a short description and introduction to your work. (Submission of photos does not constitute acceptance into the show.)
  2. Dolls that are accepted into the show will be notified and receive next steps for delivery to William Grant Still Arts Center by November 13, 2017.
  3. This year we are also interested in altered book art or artist books, and Black and White vintage photography depicting Black life in unique and creative ways,
  4. If chosen, intake dates for dolls or artwork are by appointment during the Week of Nov. 27th through December 2, 2017