Welcome to the Dollhouse

Camilla Taylor, 26, is a Utah native with a home studio in central Phoenix. With a background in printmaking, she has turned to printing on fabric to create patterns for plush anthropomorphic dolls. The petite artist sports granny glasses and a bright blue Mohawk that matches the plugs in her earlobes. The outward and flashy gestures of her physical style clash curiously with her shy, soft-spoken persona. It's clear that Camilla's sharp intelligence drives her work, which has recently consisted of unforgettable four-legged dolls featuring painted clay faces and genitalia affixed to bodies made of bright-colored, stuffed fabric. Her space is filled with piles of cloth, sewing tools, printmaking materials, among a random assortment of furniture and trinkets she's collected from years of dumpster-diving and sifting through abandoned houses.

Sew what? I started making these little dolls a long time ago and I didn't really know how to sew. I taught myself how to sew because I run a bondage business and I had to learn. My friend gave me the business, and I kind of expanded it. I still don't really know how to sew very well. I'm sure I'm doing everything wrong, but it works okay. And then I have a Web site, It sounds really exciting but it's really boring because I just sit at home and sew stuff, and there's no sexy slaves hanging out being sexy.

A family affair. I'm an atheist now. I'm not Mormon anymore. I don't know if this is offensive or not but I feel like my family's Mormon the way some families are Jewish. My family has been Mormon for so long that I'm distantly related to Brigham Young and other prophets.

Watch your diet. I became vegetarian when I was 7 years old, by myself — my family wasn't vegetarian. And then I became vegan about five years ago — it was kind of an extension. It's not that something is dying that bothers me. It's that it's unnecessary — and the fact that I am completely removed from its death. If I was starving, I would be fine with chasing down an elk and bringing it down with my bare teeth.

Anatomically correct. Oh, I get crazy reactions with that. Which I think is really bizarre because I don't think my work is sexual, really, because nothing's having sex or being really erotic. They just have genitalia. With dolls, what I really like about them is that people interact with them with less walls up, with less preconceptions about what art is. And they kind of interact with them on a more intimate level because it's something they can touch, and it's small and it's an intimate experience. And so, also a lot of people acted really protective toward them. The first time I showed them at Salt Lake [City], this girl came up to me and yelled at me. The crux of her argument was that I'd taken these little people and made them stand naked in front of all these people in a gallery and how horrible I was to do this. She was so concerned about the well-being of the dolls and how I had forced this unfortunate circumstance upon them.

Everybody poops? To us, our hands and our feet are just as important as our genitalia. We would be screwed if we couldn't pee — we would be in an awful lot of trouble. And so it's just as important. I didn't give them assholes, though. But I'm an artist. I don't have to answer to that, necessarily.

Too close for comfort. And I used genitalia from people — from porn mostly — because I didn't really have a lot of people who wanted to flash me their cooch. It's kind of an awkward thing to ask of a friend.

Adults only. It's about just the experience of being responsible for who you are and everything you do. Because you can no longer pretend that it's not your fault. That's kind of the idea behind it — even though they're still dolls, which is kind of a weird way to talk about adulthood. The titles are, like, what they would say to you if they were your friends or people you worked with and their experiences. We anthropomorphize things to deal with it, and they're sort of anthropomorphizing different issues of being grown up.

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Lilia Menconi
Contact: Lilia Menconi