A show more than two years in the making is bringing sparkle and shine.
“Courts of Jewels,” an exhibition of costumed ball-jointed dolls by Sally C. Fink, will be on display Monday through April 30 in the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center gallery at Community Arts Center of Cambria County, 1217 Menoher Blvd., Westmont.
The exhibit is Fink’s seventh costumed show at the arts center, dating back to 1981.
The displays have showcased her costuming history from her first fantasy-and-science-fiction competition costumes, through the historical costumes that reflected her involvement in medieval and Renaissance re-enactment, all of which segued into the costuming of ball-jointed dolls.
‘Always loved costumes’
“I have always loved costumes, miniatures and anything shiny,” said Fink, a resident of Westmont.
“When I discovered realistic ball-jointed dolls in 2014, I realized I found the perfect costume mannequins. As they are poseable with perfect bodies and lovely faces, I indulged in making miniature outfits from history, media and my own fertile imagination.”
To date, she has 70 dolls, which are manufactured in South Korea and China, and many of them will be showcased in the exhibit.
Most of the dolls are realistic humans, although there are a number of cats, dogs and other critters.
“For this show, I wanted to focus on the dolls and the costumes,” Fink said.
“There will be props and the dolls. I have around 60 costumes, a majority of which I’ve made, some I’ve purchased and some were commissioned.”
On display will be science-fiction, entertainment, desert, book characters, kings and queens, fantasy, fashion, medieval and Renaissance and modern-themed scenes.
For the costumes, Fink drafted her own patterns and made fitting toiles, the same as she would have if she was making full-size outfits.
“I try to have a big variety of things and be very inclusive,” Fink said.
“Props were either commissioned or made by me or my friend Cliff Kepple. A lot of stuff came from local thrift stores or from halfway around the world and that includes my fabrics and trims, so this really is an international show.”
When coming up with a name for the show, she said she chose “Courts of Jewels” for several reasons.
“Along with my love of glitz and glitter, I also love brilliant color, and jewels personify both,” Fink said.
“But jewels are not just shiny, pretty stones, they are also people, people in all their diversities of personalities and nationalities, of their colors and clothing and lifestyles.
“Here then is a celebration of color and beauty, of sparkle and shine, and of people of the world and of fiction and fantasy.”
For those seeing Fink’s costuming work, her hope is viewers experience joy.
“I love beautiful things and making beautiful things and sharing beautiful things, so I hope people are inspired and it makes them happy and I also hope they’re a little in awe of everything,” she said.
Attention to detail
Angela R. Godin, executive director of the arts center, said Fink’s talent is remarkable, and her attention to detail is astounding.
“I have had the pleasure of getting to know Sally over the past six years, and she has shared her wonderful talents with the Johnstown community for years,” she said.
“ ‘Courts of Jewels’ will be an exhibit like no other and it is going to be a true do-not-miss experience.”
Godin said Fink is an artistic force within Cambria and Somerset counties.
“There’s a specific style in the glam and jewels that she has and people can definitely identify her work,” she said.
“Her national and international caliber is incredible and people don’t have to go out of the state or country because we have someone who has that essence and talent locally.”
Godin said her hope is people will be “transformed” by seeing Fink’s works.
“She doesn’t leave anything to the imagination,” she said.
“She takes care of every detail to the fullest. There’s no question of detail work when it comes to her pieces and interpretation. You know exactly what her objective was, you know what she was tying to accomplish and you know the sense of emotion that she wanted you to get when seeing that piece. Coming in here they can be transformed, influenced and feel something good and positive.”
Fink began drawing and making up stories to go with those drawings when she could first pick up a pencil.
Many sketches, many stories and many years later, she wrote her first “Lalloure” novel in 1988.
Two more books in the same series followed. Nearly 20 years later, she published those books, then wrote and published the fourth and fifth books and completed the series.
Fink also is an internationally award-winning costumer whose writings reflect her love of historical and fantasy clothing.
She began costuming in 1973 when she entered a Futuristic Fashion Design contest sponsored by the convention Equicon.
Nearly 50 years later, she is a many-times-over master costumer in the International Costumers Guild, and a Baroness, Laurel and a Pelican in the Society for Creative Anachronism.
In 2020, she was awarded the International Costumers’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award for her costumes and contributions to the costuming community.
Fink has had more than a dozen one-woman costume and art-to-wear shows at local venues in western Pennsylvania, including three at Laurel Arts as well as at the arts center.
From 2004 to 2011, one of her fantasy costumes, “The Iron Orchid,” was on exhibition in the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle.
She is a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
For more information on Fink, visit www.sallycfink.com.
Because there was no public opening reception for the exhibit, a video tour of the artwork will be available on the arts center’s YouTube channel and Facebook page following the opening weekend of the show.
Those attending the exhibit are asked to wear masks and practice social distancing.
There is no admission fee.
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
For more information, call 814-255-6515 or visit www.caccc.org.