Nicole Houff

To put it simply: I’m a Minneapolis photographer with a mild obsession with Barbie. Influenced by imagery from the ’50s and ’60s, I create scenes with the dolls in studio that have a sense of whimsy mixed with a little sarcasm. To me, Barbie is a positive, strong and empowering figure and I try to utilize her to create conversation. And to answer your question, I only have around 40 dolls.

Once I have a scene visualized in my head, I go on the hunt for all the components that need to go into the image. I set up the diorama with the dolls, props and backgrounds and design studio lighting around it. I’ve always felt that my Barbie series is the perfect hybrid of my BA from Macalester College with a major in Studio Art and a minor in Political Science, and my Associate Degree from Minneapolis Community and Technical College in Photography and Digital Imaging. I take an incredibly technical approach to my work; each shoot is a multi-hour event comprised of fine tuning lighting and great attention to detail. All of my Barbie scenes are photographed with a digital camera and subsequently printed at a local professional lab on archival paper (color, density, etc. approved by myself).

My work has been shown at a variety of galleries, festivals and exhibits including (but not limited to): Mpls Photo Center, The Knockdown Center, Gamut Gallery, Intermedia Arts, Nash Gallery, Robbin Gallery, Betty Danger’s, MN State Fair, Uptown Art Fair, Edina Art Fair and the Twin Cities Pride Festival. I was selected as one of the featured artists at our Minnesota State Fair Fine Art Exhibition in 2016 and the Commemorative Artist of the Uptown Art Fair in 2017. In 2018 the Hopkins Center for the Arts invited me to hang a solo exhibition of my series, accompanied by an artist talk.

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