The Kouklitas – Art Dolls with a Gothic Narrative

New York based artist Andrew Yang hand-makes these strange little dolls – named Kouklitas after the Greek word for doll koukla – out of muslin and hand paints their faces. There are different ranges of dolls, including a more commercial ‘Editorial’ line based on the collections of major fashion houses like Givenchy and Lanvin. Cooler and creepier are the ‘Collection’, which features a range of whimsical characters that look like they’ve been transported out of the stories of the Brother’s Grimm. Each doll has a name and, best of all, a narrative explaining who she is and how she came to be. The Gothic origin stories are often based in post-civil war New Orleans.

Of the Clora and Clarice doll (pictured above):

Cora and Clarice, Clarice and Cora. This set of unique twins was born in ante-bellum New Orleans to Irish immigrant parents Cieran and Cara McCarthy, who were reportedly barely making ends meet as music teachers. Before they were out of the crib the wonder twins were proficient in the violin and piano. Eventually they toured Europe; after their famous Dresden performance in a family induced interpretation of an opera ballet version of Swan Lake, their fame and wealth were cemented. Both girls maintained dozens of lovers, but they were always shared. Shortly after the twins settled in London at the peak of their careers, a certain Harold Hartfordshire blatantly favored Clarice, the more timid of

the girls. After Mr. Hartfordshire was found brutally murdered in his York estate, Clarice shocked the world with her confession implicating her sister, therefore herself, in the horrible crime. They were tried and hung, and are noted to be “the first publicly executed set of conjoined twins.”

If you don’t fancy any of the collection dolls, Yang also creates custom dolls. But do they come with their own personal histories?

Image from the Koulitas website

Amy Thibodeau

View posts by Amy Thibodeau
Amy Thibodeau is originally from the Canadian Prairies, spent the last few years in one of the world's greatest cities, London, UK and is spending the next year traveling around the world. She is interested in everything, but lately is mostly fixated on art, politics, creative writing, cuddly animals and experimenting with different kinds of photography. You can find her on her personal blog Making Strange, posting to her photography project Lost and Looking, on Twitter @amythibodeau, or working as a freelance content strategist via Contentini.