The Diary of Lea Knight

by Maxima Strange

This project combines my recent interest in dolls, journaling, and hybrid forms. I am interested in the history of dolls and how they affect their owners psychologically. I was particularly interested in how dolls might be surrogates for a lost child. I also wanted to explore how dolls might be an aid in storytelling, becoming alter egos for different parts of the teller’s consciousness.

Among my influences are Charlotte Salomon and Maira Kalman. I first learned of Charlotte Salomon from an article in the New Yorker, The Obsessive Art and Great Confession of Charlotte Salomon. Before Salomon’s death at the hands of the Nazis, she created a series of gouache paintings that tell the story of her life. Handing over the paintings to a family friend, she said, “Keep these safe. They are my whole life.”

I wanted to create something that was as meaningful for my narrator as Salomon’s paintings were for her, something that my narrator might want to pass on so that her experiences would not be lost. Like Salomon, Kalman’s work uses pictures and text to tell the story of her life. Her focus on truth within her characters is something I try to focus on in my own work.

My hybrid project, also a study in Lynda Barry’s ‘autobificitionalography’, is created in a small sketchbook with gouache paints and collage elements. As I was working on the pages, I pictured my narrator sitting at a table through the night, slowly sorting through the pieces of her life and trying to put them together into something that makes sense. 

Maxima Strange is a writer and artist living in an ancient house in the great black swamp. She collects odd dolls and ghost stories.