Reach for the Stars
Artist Role Models for Girls
As a child I was not a doll
collector, acquiring only
one of the first Barbie
dolls (long ago lost to play
and then neglect) but I have recently
become interested in the idea of
dolls or action figures that depict
famous women. One of the more
admirable efforts in this new market is that of Girls Explore “Reach
for the Stars.”
Founded by Randy Allen in 2003,
Girls Explore produces dolls of
notable women, along with related
books and educational materials.
Though their only visual artist doll
so far is one of American Impres-
Mary Cassatt, Girls Explore doll
sionist Mary Cassatt, Girls Explore
hopes to also eventually make available dolls of artists Frida Kahlo,
Georgia O’Keeffe, and Maya Lin.
The idea of Girls Explore grew
from the founder’s frustration with
finding good female role models for
girls and women. She wanted to create dolls of courageous and accomplished women to encourage girls
to reach for their own stars. The
first dolls produced were of Amelia
Earhart, Dot Richardson, and Bessie
Mary Cassatt was chosen as
the first artist because she was an
important American Impressionist
who was also involved in the early
women’s rights movement. Other
dolls include Harriet Tubman, Babe
Didrikson Zaharias, and Anna Bots-ford Comstock.
Each twelve-inch, soft-bodied
bendable doll comes with a hard-
back biography and accessories
related to the woman depicted. For
example, a palette of watercolor
paints, an artist’s pad, a basket, an
activity pack, and a book about the
life and work of the artist accom-
pany the Mary Cassatt doll, dressed
as in one of her self-portraits.
Each doll set sells for $59.99
but special pricing is available for
schools. Girls Explore has also cre-
ated a Program in
a Box that includes
the complete collec-
tions of all the dolls
and their books and
ent written educa-
tional materials are
available in versions
for girls, women,
and girls and boys.
It looks like I
will be collecting
dolls after all (at
least I am limiting
them to artists). I
will definitely use them with my
students in my classroom and in
educational displays at school.
Women Artists, Take 5 Art Prints,
Lauren Marks and Kay Alexander, Crystal Productions, 1992.
Nancy Walkup is an art teacher at W.S.
Ryan Elementary in Denton, Texas and
the editor of SchoolArts.
Women’s History Month
March is National Women’s History Month, first established in
March of 1987. According to the
National Women’s History Project, “Learning about the extraordinary achievements of women
helps diminish the tendency
to dismiss and trivialize who
women are and what they accomplish. In celebrating women’s
historic achievements, we present an authentic view of history.
The knowledge of women’s history provides a more expansive
vision of what a woman can do.
This perspective can encourage
girls and women to think larger
and bolder and can give boys and
men a fuller understanding of the
Other Artist Dolls
Little Thinker Dolls has fabric
dolls of artists Frida Kahlo, Vincent van Gogh, and Monet (www.
html) and Archie McPhee (www.
offers a plastic Leonardo da Vinci
action figure. A limited edition
doll of Georgia O’Keeffe by Green
Spirit Studio may inspire you
to make your own artist dolls