Oh, what a doll! “Have a Heart Dolls” public art from Rose Baker Senior Center is global

There’s always something happening in the art sessions at Rose Baker Senior Center. With help and direction from the indomitably positive and dedicated artist,  Juni VanDyke, participants in the art program share their talents and collaborate. Participants join in an amazing amount of creative work and activity and have the opportunity to exhibit their creations. Often they work together as a group toward a final outcome. Three quilt series became monumental and cherished works of public art. (See Kim Smith’s beautiful coverage on Good Morning Gloucester.) When you visit the art studio at Rose Baker you’ll see floor to ceiling examples of their creations. For the past few years, dolls have been blooming up the studio wall and steadily and similarly building into a kind and social public art project. Now it’s a mission for art and healing that’s reached beyond Gloucester and Cape Ann.

Juni Van Dyke shared the photographs in this post and writes about the iteration of this project:

“Two years ago, Lois Stillman, a regular participant in the Art Program at the Senior Center, shared an idea with our Monday art group.  The idea became known as “The Endearing Doll Project” — “endearing” because the hand-made doll that Lois introduced to us was just that…endearing.  By way of Lois’ initial instruction, the dolls began to multiply with a serious purpose:  the dolls would be created for the comfort of children undergoing cancer treatment at Dana Farber.  Later, more dolls…(baskets of dolls!) would be delivered to elderly residents at Golden Living and SeaCoast.  Still later, more dolls…(armfuls of dolls!) would join volunteers headed to The Dominican Republic where children who have little in the way of playthings would receive them. The “Endearing Dolls” became known as “The Have a Heart Dolls”. To accurately describe the artwork attributed to each individual doll, (over four hundred dolls to date!) one would have to exhaust every synonym in a thesaurus under the heading “beautiful”.  Indeed, the dolls are beautiful with exquisite individual attention given to detail:  lace trimmings, velvet ribbons, eyelet petticoats, knitted caps, stylized tresses, etc.  But the “Have a Heart Dolls” are so much more than beautiful works of art.  These dolls, with their purpose of bringing comfort and cheer, are a definitive source of love.”  Participants in the “Have a Heart Doll Project” are: Lois Dench, Judy Menicocci, Mary Noons, Maggie Rosa, Carmella Scola, Emily Soule, Ida Spinola, Lois Stillman, Teddy Talbot, Connie Troisi, Juni VanDyke, and Susan Wright

To help with the dolls or other projects and learn more about the art program: Council On Aging (COA) Rose Baker Senior Center Art Program. The mission statement under the direction of Juni VanDyke: To connect Gloucester Senior Citizens to their community through worthwhile art projects while encouraging artistic individuality and collaboration. 

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