Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Famous Women by Elaine Shants

For many collectors, paper dolls of political figures are an important niche within the celebrity category. Sometimes the political paper doll carries a point of view, especially if he or she is caricatured. Check out the reproductions of Judge Magazine political cut-outs at Judy Johnson's Web site, Judge featured William Jennings Bryan and New York Mayor John F. Hylan in 1925, and labor leader John L. Lewis in 1937. They provide a short and humorous history lesson about how these figures were viewed in their own time.

Elaine Shants drew a series of Famous Women paper dolls for International Doll World in the early 1990s, including Golda Meir, Corazon Aquino, Margaret Thatcher and Amelia Earhart. The figures are beautifully and respectfully done. I see them as meditations on the prominence of women in world events.

The Benazir Bhutto paper doll ran in the March/April 1991 issue. When I heard of Bhutto's death, I emailed Elaine for permission to post the doll here, and asked her a few questions about her work. Here's what she had to say:

"Upon learning the sad news of the tragic death of Benazir Bhutto, I was struck with such a different feeling from all of the other assasinations about which we hear all too often in that part of the world. Because of the visual research needed, I amassed pictures from books and articles on each subject, and while selecting what I thought to be the best representations of their lives, I would also read of the pursuits of these admirable women. Then, too, the hours spent illustrating the figures just added to 'time spent' with them, and so, in the case of Benazir Bhutto, I felt a momentary sense of having known this person.

"You certainly may post the paper doll on the blog. In answer to your question about the choice of women to be illustrated, that actually came from the editor of IDW. Every few months they would give me several names with which to work. There were a couple which were never published, I think - they turned to a nostalgia style of magazine as I recall. Since returning from the convention, I have finished a couple of small paintings which had previously been planned, and as yet have not contacted any doll magazines. I don't know how open they are to publishing PDs right now, but I will pursue it at the first of the year."

We look forward to seeing Elaine's new work in the near future.

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