Utilizing broken porcelain dolls from the Thuringia province in Germany, Barbara McIntyre’s assemblages from the Fragment Series breathe new life into these abandoned figurines. Beautiful and delicate, these porcelain fragments are not only literal fragments of what they once were, but are also fragments of an era buried under battlegrounds. From 1880-1930 these porcelain dolls were produced abundantly; any blemish on their otherwise pristine surface sent them straight into the ground to be crushed by factory workers, preventing thieves from digging them up to be resold. Even overproduction sent perfect porcelain dolls deep into the dirt, waiting to become debris. These factories are no longer in business today; most were destroyed by bombs and fires during the first and second world wars.
McIntyre purchased many of these leftover porcelain fragments; some whole, others not, and sheltered them inside her invented environments of hopeful intrigue. The look and feel of these wonderful bits and pieces inspired McIntyre to give them a new purpose. Allured yet humbled by their little porcelain faces, including ones damaged, disfigured and stained, she could not resist the urge to put them back together in some small way.
Framed in intimate compositions and paired with other collected found-objects, the Fragment Series invites up-close viewer engagement. Object pairings encourage further story-sharing full of past heartbreak and the present promise of rebuilding. With all of the history held by the porcelain dolls, McIntyre allows them to be seen in a simple, direct way. These small figurines have endured the changes of a century, and they continue to be admired thanks in part to McIntyre’s love of assemblage.
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