what it costs

The new Barbie dolls, available in more diverse colors and sizes, were a hot topic at last night’s open studio. Body image issues go so much deeper than Barbie in our culture. I’m curious to see how Barbie’s new looks will work out for her.

Other things people wanted to talk about:

  • the perennial “how much do these sculptures cost?”
  • the accompanying “what do you mean, you’re not selling them???”


I don’t like talking about it, partly because talking about money tends to be uncomfortable (I remember all too well what it feels like not to have any money, and how much I would have hated someone like me back then) and partly because it is old news to me. And also because how much a piece of art costs is generally the least interesting thing about it.

But in the middle of one of these conversations about not selling my work, an interesting thing happened. A young acquaintance of mine was expressing dismay at the idea that she’d never be able to own one of my sculptures. And I said that if she would model for me, she could have one that would be shaped like her. And it seemed like she might actually be into that.

“Really???” she asked. “You’re not just saying that?”

Really. I got goosebumps, thinking that it might happen. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. A few years ago I wrote:

Or maybe, if I’m feeling more generous, I’ll offer to cover her in plaster and help her tell the truth about her own body and what goes on inside it.

So this is what it costs:

  • You have to get topless and let me cover you in plaster from hip to shoulder.
  • You have to tell me a story.
  • And then you have to wait, because these things take time.

I’ll do my best to translate your story into a sculpture.  When I’m finished, I’ll have it professionally photographed. And then you can take it home and give it to your boyfriend or hang it in your dining room or run over it with a tractor or whatever.



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