The idea that you can learn and assign yourself projects without being in school is what inspired Jennifer Perren of Little Rock to start on a two-year journey producing her art show, which opened at South Main Creative on June 7 and was on display for the rest of the month.

“It was born out of me not wanting to go back to school,” Perren explained. After graduating college, she was looking into going to grad school, but she picked up a book called Don’t Go Back to School, which made her realize that decision was not for everyone, and was not necessary for conducting your own research projects.

The dolls, which have clay faces, hands and feet and red felt bodies, are an intriguing image and sometimes described as creepy. Although she said she finds this interpretation interesting, Perren said she doesn’t see them that way.

“They are pretty much objects to me, but because of the way they look, they’re (ripe) for interpretation,” Perren said. “The color red and their expressions are so juicy. But I’m mostly interested in the exercise of assigning yourself work, following through with it, and showing it to people.”

Although she graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a bachelor’s degree in printmaking, she realized after college that the medium was no longer exciting for her. She explains in her artist statement for her show that she started working with clay, which made creating art fun for her again. 

She discusses growing up with dolls of similar build – ones with plastic heads and limbs and soft bodies which served as a sort of inspiration for her project. She used red to represent creativity and joy.

She wanted the project to be about the idea that trusting your creative instincts will result in them leading you to some sort of purpose. She followed through the project until her instincts told her it was complete, but still does not feel as though she has been given the purpose she was looking for. Instead, she said she is still learning, but that is OK.