I had no idea how much a simple walk in the woods would change my artistic calendar, but change it did. I had simply gone out to visit the 42 acres we own, to see what my hubs had been up to and accidentally walked up on Found Baby. She was buried in the ground, the same ground that Bill had been working on clearing the past few days, but he never saw her. After pulling her out of the ground, and then photographing her, the images seemed to draw not only me in, but many people and friends who saw them on Facebook. I also realized that she was 49 years old, made in 1961, and that just added more to the mystery of how exactly she came to be here, under our feet.
I had to think about that for a while. I had to really consider what or who it was she represented, by her haunting images. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe that a doll could actually have a voice, but Found Baby does, simply by how she looks, and the emotions she invokes in people when they see her. Getting past her creepy looks was part of the process for me. I first thought she was creepy like most who saw her, until I looked past her physical features and imagined what could have happened to cause her to go from looking like a princess to looking like she does now. Some journey must have taken place, so the idea for her blog was born.
I also can't negate the fact that I myself relate to her a good bit. Many things about my history are similar to her fictional one, at least metaphorically speaking, so getting under the skin of this doll wasn't too hard for my creative brain. What I didn't expect was to find other dolls, that for some reason, they just kept showing up on our property, and that was strange too. Several days ago after I had been out at Dulcinea, which is what we call our property, I specifically wasn't looking for any more dolls. Found Baby had caused quite a stir in our household, so I was in "dump digging time out," LOL. As I was walking past the pile, after it had rained, a tiny, peach colored foot was sticking straight up out of the ground, like it was waving to get my attention. When I dug that doll up, its body was shaped like it had been running for its life, which cracked me up. Later, I found its head and just like Found Baby, it was creepy at first. Found Friend has similar hair and skin issues, except its skin and face seemed scorched, but not melted, and is 46 years old. Go figure, doll #2, found under strange circumstances.
And then yesterday, after I had just told Bill that I doubted there was anything further to find, and if there was, it would find a way of showing itself, Bill walked past a tree and his foot landed on yet another baby, buried half way with its head exposed. This poor thing only had a head and ambulatory arms past it's neck, but when I searched for a pic of it, I found that it was really Little Miss Echo, a doll that repeated everything you say, and was made in 1966. So the oddity and creepiness continued, but the impact Found Baby has had on people hasn't.
I don't know where the journey of Found Baby will take us. Artistically, I am challenged to find new ways to photograph her, and that is exciting to me. I am also challenged as a writer to develop her story in a way that advocates for victims of abuse, suffering, or neglect, and that is a huge challenge also, within the context of her being a fictional character. As she evolves, it is clear she has more than one voice, and each just as powerful as the other I believe.
Then there is the God component in this story that I find intriguing. I don't believe in coincidences. As weird as it sounds, I believe it was no accident that these dolls were found when they were, and how they were. I believe God might have had a hand in helping me look down in that moment, to see a little doll buried for the past 30 some odd years. I believe he can use my creativity as a message of hope, togetherness, and ultimately that love will prevail to reach some people and I pray my beliefs here are right. I guess in the long run we will see.
If you have read Found Baby's blog, thank you, and would you please consider sharing her link and story with others. There is power in a message of survival, and I feel there are many out there who need to be exposed to hope. If you are totally creeped out by her, that's perfectly fine too. It won't hurt my feelings one bit, but I encourage you to read her blog, from the beginning and it just might change your lenses on how you see her. Yes, this whole experience is a bit strange, but it has such great potential to be a unique work of art. I pray I am up for the challenge.
This is how I found Found Baby.
This is how I saw Found Friend before I dug her up.
This is the third doll Bill Found, Little Miss Echo.
To see all of Found Baby's and her friends images, you can visit my fan page on Facebook, The Artwork of Ardith Goodwin, and see her album.