Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville has unveiled a new exhibition, Ladies Fashion Dolls of the Nineteenth Century by Pete Ballard. The exhibition is free and the public is invited to attend. The show will remain on display through the end of 2009.
The fashion dolls consist of 56 costumed dolls from the West Virginia State Museum collection made of papier mache. Each doll is constructed in proportion to the particular costume it wears.
The dolls in the exhibition span the three basic periods that dominated ladies’ fashion in the 19th century including the revival of the Classical Period (1800 - 1820); the Romantic Period (1820 - 1840); and the Victorian Era (1840 - 1900).
Ballard of Peterstown, Monroe County, is a West Virginia artist with an international claim to fame. Born in Welch, he has a real passion for his roots in West Virginia. “I have been many places, but West Virginia is my home,” he says.
Ballard left the state to start his career, which began with teaching, including an eight-year stay in Saudi Arabia where he taught English as a second language. He later taught at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. While there he became curator at the Reynolda House Museum, the former R. J. Reynolds estate. The museum had a costume collection, and Ballard was hired to curate and conserve the collection. He also worked for many years with the late Stella Blum, curator of the Costume Institute for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In addition, he began the costume collections for the Mint Museum of Charlotte, N.C. In his conservation efforts, Ballard went through vast amounts of fabric and would have many leftover scraps when the projects ended.
“Over the years, I realized the scraps were getting finer and rarer,” Ballard said. At the point I decided I was no longer interested in museum work, I found I was stuck with a mountain of fine scraps.” These scraps launched him on his next career, creating fashion dolls, which he dressed in researched authentic period costumes.
Ballard’s fashion dolls are now known across the United States. Like most of his art, the hundreds of dolls he has produced have been donated. “I do not make money producing my art. I donate it,” he said.
For more information about the exhibition, contact Andrea Keller, cultural program coordinator for the complex, at (304) 843-4128, ext. 202, or e-mail her at [email protected].
Operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex features one of the largest and most famous burial mounds built by the prehistoric Adena people. A massive undertaking, construction of the mound took place in successive stages from about 250-150 B.C., and required the movement of more than 60,000 tons of earth. Exhibits and displays in the complex’s museum interpret what is known about the lives of these prehistoric people and the construction of the mound. The Archaeological Complex is located at 801 Jefferson Ave., in Moundsville. Contact the museum for information regarding group registration and detailed driving directions. The museum is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Access to the mound closes 30 minutes before the museum.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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