Groups partner to create dolls for children who need a friend

Wednesday August 21, 2013


Arts Editor

NORTH BENNINGTON -- "The Doll Project" is a story of recycling, giving back, making art and making kids happy.

The Vermont Arts Exchange, the Bennington School, and the Project Against Violence Encounters are working together to give young girls a chance to give back to the community by creating ceramic dolls using old donated plaster molds and distributing them to incoming PAVE families with young children as a welcome gift.

"One of the things we wanted to do this summer was community collaboration projects," said Matthew Perry, director and co-founder of VAE.

The kids worked with VAE, which has been partnered with the Bennington School for 23 years running the school’s arts program, to help paint a catamount statue for the Catamount Prowl, as well as several other projects to help give back to the community.

The idea for the project came from Kristen Blaker, a VAE artist/instructor. She reached out to PAVE with the idea and they accepted.

"I wanted to do something that made the girls feel like they were giving back. It came about because I feel like the girls here always have a lot done for them," Blaker said. "I feel like they needed to do something where they felt powerful enough to give back to the community.

Blaker worked with Brian Boudreau and Nicole Bull, who are teachers through the Bennington School’s vocational program. Blaker, Boudrea and Bull helped the girls make the porcelain dolls, paint their faces and dress them.

"This was something that everyone could do something, whether they did clay, or sewing or letter writing Š and everyone sort of found a niche. So they could help one way or another," Blaker said.

But it was the idea of the girls themselves to give each doll a unique name, backstory and secret power, often having to do with being a great listener in the tradition of worry dolls.

The project created over a dozen dolls to be presented to PAVE Thursday afternoon. Each of the nine girls will introduce their handmade dolls to the PAVE representatives.

"This project was beneficial for both the incoming children at PAVE, and empowering for the Bennington School girls. They not only learned new artistic techniques and worked with new mediums, but they also learned that they can be a positive influence and bring something valuable to their community," said a press release from the VAE.

For more information about the Vermont Arts Exchange or to volunteer, visit or call 802-442-5549. For more information on PAVE and the services they offer visit, or call 802-442-2370. If you are in need of immediate help PAVE offers a 24-hour hotline at 802-442-2111.

Andrew Roiter can be reached at aroiter@bennington Follow him on Twitter at @Banner_arts.


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