Freyja Hartzell. Photo by Matt Kelsey
Freyja Hartzell, associate professor at the Bard Graduate Center (BGC), spoke with Jonathan Van Ness for their podcast Getting Curious
about the role that dolls play in the formation of human identity, and as pedagogical objects that shape children’s ideas about themselves. “I’m a design historian, and what I’m really interested in, in terms of design, is how we relate with objects that we use, but also how they relate to us and how they change our behavior and how they kind of influence us in various ways,” Hartzell told Van Ness. “I got this idea at some point that wouldn’t it be cool to study dolls because in a way, they’re like the quintessential example of this kind of object, right? That's baked into them. Like they’re designed to have an impact on us. They’re designed to kind of create a relationship with us.” Hartzell, who teaches the history of modern design, architecture, and art at BGC, is currently working on a new project that examines dolls and other types of human figures in the history of design as a means of interrogating key aspects of subject-object relations for a new book Doll Parts: Designing Likeness
. She is also working on a related exhibition called Dollatry, which will open at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery in February 2025.