I’d never heard of the expression “spiritual dolls” until I visited Balboa Park last weekend.
KOKORO NO KATACHI | Image of the Heart is an exhibition of spiritual dolls at the Japanese Friendship Garden. It features the work of Kimiko Koyanagi and Michiko Stone, artists who combine traditional Japanese doll-making with contemporary art.
The two sisters are third-generation ningyo doll-makers, descendants of the Japanese Doll-Making Muraoka Family of Tokyo. Their work has been exhibited internationally.
The dolls on display are beautiful in their simplicity. The sculptural figures appear serene, pure of spirit, almost angelic.
According to the JFG website’s description, these dolls are meant to be poetic. They convey deep emotion and philosophical meaning.
Many of the spiritual dolls are thin and elongated. To me their soft forms seem to have emerged from inside growing wood, or bone, or from living beams of light.
One fascinating display shows the many steps taken to make these unique dolls. If you’re a crafty person, you certainly want to see this!
Image of the Heart can be experienced in person inside the Exhibit Hall at the Japanese Friendship Garden through October 30, 2022.