Mab Graves’ Dreamer Dunny

Today we’ll be venturing into the dreamlike landscapes of artist Mab Graves, mysterious and wonderful worlds populated by her waifs and strays. And amidst the plethora of characters that Graves has created, we find the Dreamer Dunny, a Kidrobot-produced interpretation of her aesthetic. But before we discuss this specific piece, let’s quickly focus on the artist herself.

A Brief History of Mab Graves

Born in Central Indiana, little is known about the girl who would abandon her given name and take on the moniker of Mab Graves. The second born out of four daughters, Graves was home-schooled in a household that seemingly encouraged creativity, with the girls mounting theatrical productions in the basement before their parents read them fairytales at night in lieu of turning on the TV.

Graves discovered painting in late 2008, the self-taught artist obviously having an aptitude for the form as she exhibited extensively the following year at galleries and events throughout her city of residence, Indianapolis. In fact, she was even the ultimate winner at that year’s Art vs. Art painting faceoff. Then, in 2010, Graves’ works were exhibited in New York, and she received her first solo showcase. And this trend of growing interest and demand continued, leading to today when she regularly exhibits both nationally and internationally.
In fact, one of these exhibits that she was part of was January 2015’s DTA Dunny Show 2, for which a selection of artists hand-painted and augmented Kidrobot‘s Dunny form to be displayed at Beacon, NY’s Clutter Gallery. For her contribution, Graves created a piece titled Dreams, the roughly 8-inch tall form covered in pink faux fur, human-like hands peeking out of sleeves, creating a costume feel. And this was carried over to the sculpted face that was placed on the head, its beautiful form framed by blue feather hair and butterfly adornings.
Graves noted at the time that the Dunny form had “been around for so long that everything cool had already been done” on them, referring to the plethora of designs, both factory-produced and handmade, that had graced the rabbit-eared shape since its introduction in 2004. Yet her unique Dreams creation found a way to at least feel new, decorating it as a girl in a bunny costume, the fluttering insects around her head granting a dreamlike quality.

My Impressions of Mab Graves’ Dreamer Dunny

Obviously, Kidrobot appreciated Mab Graves’ overall take on the form, offering to translate her Dreams creation into a factory-produced edition, the result of which was the Dreamer Dunny. A simplified rendition of her original creation, this vinyl cast edition has more of a traditional doll face placed upon it, the shock of hair sculpted onto the form rather than created by airy feathers. But to retain that sense of etherealness, there are specially made butterfly accents adorning the head. And to keep the feel of the overall form being a costume, the body is covered in flock, or tiny soft fibers adhered to the base.
And while this definitely captures the original piece’s faux fur aspect, the downside to light colored flock is that it tends to accentuate any imperfections in the form’s shape. Additionally, if it becomes smudged or dirty, these blemished areas are extremely obvious and not the easiest to clean. Though, while perhaps not completely ideal, I do think that flocking added a noteworthy tactile element to Graves’ design.
But what makes this truly memorable for me is that the core of Graves’ waifs and strays aesthetic was captured here. While the most obvious elements in her paintings are the disproportionate, bobblehead-like profiles and the saucer-shaped eyes, the fact that none of her girls are ever smiling is actually the most telling. While her characters might appear to be embodiments of youthful innocence, their expressions convey a different story, one of that same innocence being lost, either willingly or reluctantly. And that aspect is perfectly captured in the near emotionless mouth of the Dreamer Dunny.
Released at the end of October 2017 in this flocked pastel pink version, which was limited to an edition of 1000 pieces, Graves’ design was also made in a Kidrobot exclusive flocked baby blue iteration, its 200 piece edition having been released a couple of weeks after the original.

Editions of the Dreamer Dunny sculpture [show]

For more information on Mab Graves:
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