This series was born of a search for a project that would meet the following criteria: that the objects to be photographed be handmade, humble in construction, have semblances of a face, and that there were numerous examples of them. Providentially, I was introduced to Ron Warren, a collector who had nearly 2,000 sock monkeys, those American icons of handmade thrift made of red-heel work socks. Using classical 19th century portraiture as the model, we photographed all 1,863, using a large format camera and shooting in black and white. The objective was to imbue these long abandoned dolls with a semblance of a complicated inner life that their original owner, undoubtedly a child, would have bestowed upon them. Some of the resultant photographs were in our book Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863). Authors including Jonathan Safran Foer, Neil Gaimen, and Dale Peck worked with us by writing fictional biographies of specific sock monkeys.

SOCK MONKEYS

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© ARNE SVENSON