Something powerful and healing happens to me when I make a healing doll and discover its meaning in the process. What I experience is transformative - a release of stress; a willingness to be open to possibilities; a change in disabling beliefs; an empowerment of my being. This would be my definition of healing.
My work as a healing doll artist was initially informed and inspired by the work of Brenna Busse, Elinor Peace Bailey in her book, Mother Plays With Dolls, and a sharing and nurturing friendship with polymer clay artist, Maureen Carlson. My first doll started with a small strawberry root found in my garden. I pulled it from the earth, washed off the soil, turned it upside down and visualized the root as the hair. I wrapped her in a few small fibers, glued a small clay face on it and attached a bell for embellishment. For several years afterwards this was my process: harvesting roots each fall, forming dolls with and from them and allowing the roots’ shapes to inspire the design of the dolls.
My dolls are figurative sculpture and emotional metaphors that express feelings, beliefs and connections to body, mind and spirit. Sometimes I begin with a feeling, a struggle, or a wish to visualize some internal and invisible energy. I do this to visually speak to it and to develop a relationship with a hidden aspect of myself. At other times I simply delight in the playing with the materials, colors and shapes, seeing what comes from immersing myself in the creative process. All of my dolls mirror some aspect of hidden personal beliefs and stories.
I especially like to use roots, sticks and materials from nature because they invite me to move out of routine and expected body forms. My goal is always to make a doll that is complete, congruent in color and design, and an expression of an emotional experience, a healing story, or a spiritual connection.
I am and continue to be inspired by body-mind healing, women’s empowerment and development, archetypes, depth psychology as in the work of Jung, shamanism, creative process and spirituality.
In 2014 was interviewed by Norma Smith Olson for Minnesota Women's Press Magazine. Title of the article was The Thread of Emotion: Barb Kobe's healing dolls transfer feelings from the inside to the outside.
Ms. Olson wrote:
"She works with archetypes and concepts such as guardians, scapegoats, loving kindness, talisman, and inner healers. She uses a process called visual journaling--first creating flat images with watercolor or collage to depict an emotion or a story, and then creating a three-dimensional doll or figure."