By Desiaire Rickman
Jose Diaz instills wonder with his passion for dollhouses.
“I’ve been [building dollhouses] since I was a kid,” said Diaz, a lab manager specializing in genetic research in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology. Reminiscing, Diaz estimates he built his first dollhouse when he was 8 or 9 years old.
He entered one in the inaugural Staff Arts and Crafts Exhibit in 1991.
“A friend told me about the exhibit,” Diaz said. He entered the first three, but took a long break before he began entering them again five years ago. His current dollhouse, named Small Reflections of Big Ideas, is currently on display at Bricker Hall in the 22nd annual Staff Arts and Crafts Exhibit.
So why dollhouses? “Why does the painter paint? Why does the writer write?” Diaz asked. Passion, he explained, is the answer.
“I do it because I love it.”
Others seem to love his work as well. Diaz won the 2009 and 2010 People’s Choice awards, receiving red ribbons for the dollhouses, which mimic real houses. Diaz explained that he tries to make his dollhouses so lifelike that if a viewer was to shrink down and enter into one of them, it would be as if they were entering a real house.
“I see a picture of a real house and ask myself, ‘What can I do with this?’”
Diaz’s dollhouses, though different, follow a similar pattern. Diaz builds each dollhouse with a 1/12th scale, where one inch equals one foot. Small Reflections of Big Ideas, in which a half-inch equals one foot, is the only dollhouse that deviates from his standard.
Once a dollhouse is completed, Diaz loves stepping back to admire his work. “That’s what I love most about it: Seeing something come from nothing.” Diaz described each of his dollhouses as being a “spontaneous process.”
“Sometimes I don’t know what the house is going to look like until the end,” Diaz said. He just starts with an idea and moves things around until it all looks right to him.
Going into this year’s exhibit, Diaz is looking forward to showing off his latest creation and letting people know what he does. Earning a ribbon would only make it better.
“It’s telling you that somebody likes it,” Diaz said.
Michele Bondurant, program manager for special events in the Office of Human Resources, is coordinator of the annual exhibit. She said that the exhibit is such a success because it allows staff members to showcase their creative talents. “The activity is supported by leadership and the university community in general,” she said.
The exhibit, sponsored by the University Staff Advisory Committee and the Office of Human Resources, typically hosts 50-60 pieces. Paintings, sculptures, photography and fabric arts are accepted for the exhibit.
“Many of our hard-working staff members have talents outside of their respected positions,” Bondurant said. “This exhibit gives them the chance to show us those hidden talents.”
All submissions are judged by the university’s senior leadership, who choose their favorites and award them ribbons. The People’s Choice award is voted on by visitors to the exhibit, which runs on the first and second floors of Bricker Hall through Oct. 4. onCampus, as a supporter of the exhibit, also sponsors an Editors’ Choice ribbon. All ribbon winners will receive recognition in the Sept. 19 onCampus.