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Kerrie Brown, a Hilton Head native and Gullah descendant, continues a family tradition and celebrates her heritage through making dolls. With snowflake eyes and triangle noses, these charming oversized dolls are both a commentary on current times and treasured keepsakes of the past. One doll sports a COVID mask, others wear military camouflage. Two have mermaid tails and button eyes.

“These dolls are an expression of Gullah culture that everyone can relate to,” says Amy Wehrman, Art League Academy manager. “They are at once familiar and approachable—a wonderful use of fiber arts to evoke a time and place not easily understood by everyone.”

Brown can trace her roots on Hilton Head Island since before the Civil War. For generations, the tradition of sewing has passed down through her family; she herself was taught the art of hand sewing by her great-grandaunt, and the use of a sewing machine by her mother when she was 12. “I always think about that time when I am making the dolls.” Brown continues the tradition by hand making dolls in the Gullah style—dyed muslin, patterned cotton, yarn and thread.

Gullah Doll House, a Collective Exhibit by Kerrie Brown & Friends will be on display April 4-June 3. An artist’s reception, free and open to the public, will be held on Wednesday, April 6, 5-7pm.

Art League Academy offers art classes, demos and workshops taught by professional art educators in all media and for all skill levels, including true beginners.