Colliii.com: How did it feel to be awarded the prize for "Best Reborn Toddler"?
Maryellen: It was such a dream come true, it actually took about a week for me to believe it. No kidding! I saw my Camille listed as a winner, but until I was contacted personally by Colliii, I thought it might not be official. When people sent congratulatory messages, my typical response was “are you sure I won?” I’m honored beyond words to say the least!
Colliii.com: What have you done with little Camille?
Maryellen: Camille was adopted by a wonderful Mom and now “lives” in Utah. Her Mom still keeps in touch and sends occasional pictures of Camille dressed for holidays.
Colliii.com: Was this your first time entering the Colliii Awards? What expectations did you have? Why did you enter?
Maryellen: This was the second year in which I’ve entered. Colliii is the very pinnacle of reborn competitions, so like everyone I had high hopes but truly no expectations. Any number of wonderfully talented artists could have won, and rightfully so.
My version of Camille probably touched others because the exquisitely-sculpted Timmerman kit reminded me of my 6-month-old granddaughter.
It was wonderful having her sweet inspiration running through my mind while I worked. The whole process touched my heart daily. Maybe something of that showed in my work and reached others as well.
Colliii.com: What got you involved in Reborn? How long have you been an active Reborner?
Maryellen: I’d been a professional artist for 30 years when, in the spring of 2011, I’d stumbled across Reborns on the internet. My first thought was “I have to make my children!” I’ve three adult children and thought it would be heavenly to have their infant “presence” in my home again.
I became hooked from the beginning and by the summer of 2011, I’d converted my professional studio space for full-time reborning. Since making that shift, I have never been happier or more fulfilled.
Colliii.com: Do you visit shows in the US? How can people see your work? *
Maryellen: I have exhibited my “Little Chicks” at the Down East Doll Show and Conference last June in North Carolina. It was a wonderful experience. I will be an exhibitor again in 2013 and encourage anyone able to attend to do so.
It is inspirational being around so many others who share your passion. My work, including Reborn babies, can be seen on my website: HHGalleries.com. When available, my babies are adopted through the EBay auction process.
Colliii.com: What made you enter a Toddler? Do you do other types of Reborns too?
Maryellen: I love reborning toddlers and infants alike! Newborns are so vulnerable and preemies, so delicate. Working with the special aspects of each age is a wonderful challenge and keeps things interesting.
Although, I must admit, part of the Reborn experience is feeling that wonderful weight in your arms and my toddlers certainly are a weighty armful! I work “organically” never pushing an agenda but letting each sculpt lead its own way. Every artistic decision made in the organic process is a reaction to the decisions made in previous layers. I often don’t know what hair or eye color a baby will have until I get to that point.
I may not even know if I will paint or root hair or if it’s a boy or girl until the end. I always choose whatever looks most realistic at any given time in the process. Because I believe working from the heart and following where it leads gives the best of all outcomes, I no longer accept commissions. My babies seem to know who they are when I begin and just have to let me in on the secret. I like it that way. It keeps things exciting.
Colliii: Is there anything you’d like to share with us about yourself?*
Maryellen: Sure! My name confuses everyone so I’d like to take this opportunity to give a simple explanation. My artist’s signature has been Hollmann Hollis for 30 years but actually consists of my two middle names.
The complete version is, Maryellen Hollmann Hollis Russell. Ridiculously long, I know. Apparently, even Maryellen seemed a bit too long for me because Mom started calling me her little Chickadee from birth and it stuck like glue. Friends and family have been calling me Chick ever since. So, now you know why I settled on “Little Chicks” for a nursery name.
The most important thing I’d like to share, however, is my gratitude to everyone at Colliii who further this art form by putting forth the effort to bring a competition like this to a world-wide level. Also, to everyone who was touched by Camille. Thank you for opening your hearts and letting her in.
I am truly honored, blessed and eternally grateful.