The Dragon’s Son by Amber

Drawing from many cultures in a NeoOrientalism fashion, The Dragon’s Son was inspired by characters in Kama Sutra: a Love Story(film), History of The West Wing (Chinese play), and The Lover(film). These narratives portray pampered princes sheltered from reality in the arms of concubines and opium. The Dragon’s Son embodies aristocratic decadence; lounging in ancestral halls oblivious to the rich luxuries surrounding him. A beautiful hand-painted and embroidered kimono accents the carved throne. The prince wears this priceless heirloom like a bathrobe, shrugging it off his shoulders as he slumbers in a drugged oblivion. His thin frame and protruding cheek bones betray a sense of stagnant decay and self indulgence.

Two Thai inspired crowns, the first is a circular crown with stylized wings the second a flat hair pin of undulating lines and floral motifs. I love that in these traditions male clothing can be just as beautiful as that intended for females. For the Japanese inspired tattoos I chose symbols I felt would represent the influence of family obligation that would have been present in an aristocrat’s life. I believe my design for a new male figure would be a great addition to your work and create a new interaction between your existing characters.

Korea by Amber

Growing up surrounded by ancient Korean dishes and grandmother’s stories of the years my family spent in Korea after the war, gave me an intense appreciation for the mystical Orient. My great grandfather, inspired by a dream he had about a blond haired blue eyed Korean child, went to Korea during the devastating aftermath of the war and adopted 8 mixed blood children. This was a very dark period for Koreans, due to cultural pressures and economic hardship caused by the war many of mixed race and special needs children were abandoned in rice fields, kept constantly inside behind closed doors, or even killed. Although the South has successfully recovered the country’s division is a constant blight on the hearts and minds of the Korean people. Families separated for over 50 years, knowing that their loved ones are starving under a totalitarian regime. Defectors from the North escaping into China face the knowledge that three generations of their relatives left behind will be purged to concentration camp factories. These women also risk being caught and returned or sold on the black market as sex slaves.

In Mark Kalesniko’s Mail Order Bride, a Canadian man with an Asian fetish orders a bride from Korea. For the bride in this narrative, the hanbok which was a symbol of the traditions she left behind became tainted by her new husband’s sexual fantasies.

My most vivid memory of Korea is the walls of vibrant colored fabric in the hanbok tailor’s store. These beautiful traditional dresses would originally portray a person’s social status. In my imagery of the Empress I drew inspiration from the monumental golden crown of Queen Sondok Korea’s first female ruler and the heavily embroidered garments of Empress Meyong Seong who attempted to unite with Russia to save Korea from Japan. Today the Hanbok represents a link to the past and an idealization of the Korean woman.

Finally, Korea has been a source of beautiful ceramic and metal art for centuries, from massive kim-chi jars to delicate rice dishes for the dead. The greatest Japanese ceramic artist was kidnapped from Korea, bringing the secrets of porcelain with him. I love Korea and think a Korea inspired doll would make a striking addition to your collection.

Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte by Amber

Napoleon was both an extraordinary character of history and object of my art historical adoration. Many first hand accounts remark on his piercing grey eyes and penetrating expression. Jacqui-Louis David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps captures this distinct aspect and could be translated into a gorgeously mesmerizing ceramic work. To rein-vision Napoleon in his youth, a young rising conqueror very much in love with Josephine. In researching this entry I discovered, Napoleon and Josephine’s relationship not to be the perfect romance my imagination had idealized for them, but a much more human tale of trial and endurance. Both parties seeking the solace of other lovers when long conquests separated them, but still very much in love with each other. In symbolism I see them as an homage to Venus and Mars, love and war.

Josephine's interest in botany and art may have been the inspiration behind the creation of "La Description de L'Egypte" a colossal collection of lithography prints detailing every aspect of the Egyptian campaign, from plants and animals to architecture.

The actual historical figures aside, the clothing of this time period is very beautiful. While artists were setting out to recreate the classical ideals in their own "enlightened" image, fashion was also borrowing from the beautiful Roman works looted during the Italian occupation. Corsets were outlawed in order to facilitate higher birth rates, and a toga influenced flowing dress gained popularity. Although Napoleon too adopted this "roman" revival style for his imperial coronation, I have personally always favored his richly embroidered military uniforms.

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Copyright © 2011 Marina Bychkova.