persona dolls representing gifted students

Photos Jo Freitag

I have just completed the making of the 6 persona dolls representing Neihart and Betts  Profiles of the Gifted and Talented. I purposely did not give these dolls facial features so that they can represent their type of giftedness without also showing any racial or ethnic characteristics. For the set I had to make a second version of the Sprite doll.

Sprite doll expressions

Photos Jo Freitag

The first version of Sprite had an embroidered face, she had a calico body rather than a wooden frame and she was not in the same scale as the dolls in the set.

By altering Sprite’s posture and the angle and lighting of the photos I took it was possible to express a variety of emotions. However the whole face did not have to be visible for the emotions to be implied (eg right end picture).

During the making of the set of dolls I had interesting discussions with several people about whether the dolls should be given facial features.

Brother in law thought they looked creepy with blank faces but conceded that could be due to memories of some horror films he had seen.

Psychologist Janette Phelan of Uplift Centre Pty Ltd in Brisbane could see many possible ways of using the dolls in counselling and play therapy if the faces were blank.

At one stage during the making and gathering of the dolls and other creatures Edward was the only one in the group who had a blank face (except Felicity – but as her back was turned she did not count). Edward seemed out of place and I was convinced that I would need to paint or embroider facial features for all the dolls.

group of dolls and animals

Photo Jo Freitag

But as all of the dolls but Sprite were finished and I realised that I would have to make a second version of Sprite it also became clear that they did not need faces.

Gifted and Talented students can be of any racial/ethnic/ cultural/ economic/religious group so it was more helpful for the dolls to be neutral in regard to these aspects of their character.