Paper doll collection on display at Renaissance Center this month

Holly Viers • Mar 3, 2018 at 8:30 AM

KINGSPORT — If you’ve never seen Mary Sewell’s paper doll collection in person, this month is the perfect time to do so.

Sewell’s extensive collection, which features more than 70 framed dolls and their outfits, will be on display at the Kingsport Renaissance Center March 4-27. Most of the dolls in the collection will also be available for purchase.

“I wasn’t even sure I was going to (sell them) until last week … but this is the time, and the price is right,” Sewell said. “I hope that people will take them, and I’ll take what’s left.”

As previously reported by the Times News, Sewell began collecting paper dolls as a young girl living in Arkansas. Whether she bought the dolls or inherited them from her female relatives, Sewell said each one has brought joy to her life.

Some of her most recognizable dolls include Elizabeth Taylor, Esther Williams, Roy Rogers and characters from “Gone with the Wind.”

Sewell’s collection will be displayed beginning Sunday in the Kingsport Renaissance Center’s second-floor art gallery. Barbara Carter, gallery chairperson, said the gallery will be open anytime the Renaissance Center building is open.

When they visit the gallery, guests will be able to view 74 framed dolls, in addition to one doll — Shirley Temple — that will serve as a raffle prize.

Attendees must submit their name and phone number in order to be considered for the drawing, which will take place during the gallery reception on March 18 from 2-4 p.m.

The rest of the dolls, aside from a few that have been marked with red dots, will be for sale, Sewell said. The celebrity dolls will be $100 each, and the rest will be $50 each. All proceeds will benefit the Kingsport Art Guild and Anchors Away.

The dolls can be purchased by cash or check at the office on the second floor of the Renaissance Center. They will then be available for pickup once the exhibit concludes, Carter said.

Sewell hopes that the exhibit will be well-attended and that most of her dolls will go to new homes.

“They brought me joy as a child and again as an adult, and to me, it’s got to be shared,” Sewell said. “And if I can share it with the art guild and with the Anchors Away program, it makes my heart sing.”

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