Thursday Spotlight: Carri Skoczek on Collecting Dolls and Her Umpteen Years as an Artist
Carri Skoczek has enjoyed a decades-spanning career, in which time she has shown from everywhere from the Coney Island Mermaid Parade to Clem’s Bar. Now, she’s enjoying the dedication and regiment of #DrawingADay, using social media as a vehicle to exhibit (and often sell) her works. She also has a show now at Figureworks (168 North 6th Street) where her interest in dolls of all shapes and sizes is on full display. Get to know this local artist and her versatile craft in today’s Thursday Spotlight!
Greenpointers: You’ve had a number of shows in Brooklyn and have lived here for a bit. Can you briefly describe your trajectory and how you came to live in the borough?
Carri Skoczek: I moved to Brooklyn when i was 40 in 1997, a year after meeting my New York-born and bred partner in crime, David Hurd, in New Orleans at Jazz Fest. It was magical. We discovered we had the same friends.
Kerry Smith from the Right Bank Cafe insisted I run his gallery, which I did from 1997 to 2001. It was the perfect way to meet local artists and gallerists in the heyday of the Williamsburg art scene.
My first solo show in Brooklyn was at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Society in 1997. I curated an annual mermaid show celebrating the Coney Island Mermaid Parade for 10 years. I was also an award-winning participant in the parade. (I was a costume designer in Milwaukee for 12 years and that satisfied my urge to play dress up and design costumes for my friends.) I’ve shown at Holland Tunnel Gallery since the beginning. Participated in every annual epic group show Ritchie Timperio put on at sideshow gallery. I also had a solo show there in 2016. I was represented by Causey Contemporary from 1999 until she closed the gallery doors in 2015.
I’ve been in funky group shows in the local bars. I did a drunk girl show at Clem’s Bar in the late 90s. Two drunk girl chalkboard drawings are still in the window.
You had mentioned that you’ve been creating a drawing a day since January 1 this year. What was the impulse behind that, and how has it gone?
A friend of mine on New Years eve said she was going to do a drawing a day for 2019. Seemed like a great idea so I followed suit. Now I’m obsessed doing a portrait a day. It’s a great discipline. I also love doing the research to find interesting and inspirational characters.
You share a lot of these images on Instagram with the #drawingaday hashtag. How has social media perhaps shifted artists’ self-marketing strategies, in your experience?
I’ve actually sold more work on Facebook than Instagram…still trying to figure that out.
You currently have a show at Figureworks, I believe, that makes use of homemade Voodoo dolls. Where did you find the vintage jewelry to make these pieces?
I’m like a crow. I like shiny sparkly things. I wear about two pounds of silver bracelets and various bangles…I’ve collected jewelry since the 80s from thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales. I’ve also been extremely lucky to have so many people donate their old jewelry in the last year.
And, while we’re on it, what was the inspiration for this exhibit and the dolls?
I’ve been fascinated by dolls since I was a little girl. I have a large collection of weird dolls GI Joe, Barbie, vintage porcelain, Jamaican cloth dolls, Haitian voodoo, beaded African….I started making dolls after seeing an African art exhibit of fetish dolls in Seattle. I’ve made all kinds of dolls over the years: 16-foot-long mermaids, sideshow freak dolls, and now the voodoo dolls. I was hoping to do a show of just them. But when Randall came to my studio his jaw dropped. It’s floor to ceiling with everything from my Easter parade bonnets, pearl powder portraits, dolls to linocuts. I work in a lot if different mediums. He wanted to transport the studio to the gallery. So it’s like a very mini recent retrospective — a cross section of the work I’ve made in the last decade.
Do you have any other projects you’re excited about? Or anything else you’d like to add?
I’m excited to get back to my beaded portraits. I started doing these in 2001, inspired by the Haitian voodoo flags I collect. I use only bugle beads as opposed to the traditional sequin and seed-bead approach. After working on the voodoo dolls for over a year I’m looking forward to switching gears.