Meet Allison, an American Girl

Allison Welch

Artist Statement

I am retelling the stories of the American Girl dolls through self-portraiture. I painstakingly sew, weave, knit, and embroider all of my costumes so I may exactly mimic the style and patterning of the American Girl doll versions. I collaborate with historic museums and locations around the country in order to access rooms, houses, and grounds that are historically accurate to the characters’ stories I make this series because I am drawn to the complexity of the historic American Girl collection.

In revisiting the books I read as a child, I have discovered thorough research summarized in the form of dolls, dresses, accessories, and simple plots, all appropriate for children around the age of eight. While the roles of women and girls in American history become simplified in these texts, they remain true to the eras represented by the characters. Building upon the strong formula of the American Girl novellas (every character has an introductory book, a lesson, a birthday, a day she saves, a surprise, and a growing-up story), I reenact similar scenes as different characters to measure the shifts in our country’s perspectives of domesticity. If I look at the way the American Girls interact with cooking, public rooms, their bedrooms, the façade of their homes, chores, mending and making, lessons, religious traditions, and pastimes, I begin to understand the way in which women have lived in the past.

Allison Welch received her first American Girl doll, Molly McIntire, when she was nine. She received her BFA in photography from UW-Madison when she was twenty-two, her MFA from the University of Iowa when she was twenty-six, and notice that she would be one of the 100 photographers to attend Center's Review Santa Fe 2014 this past June.  She has been in a good amount of shows -- both nationally and internationally -- for her age.  You can meet her at