Heaton’s Tickle-Me-Elmo

I recently came across an article about a child-hood friend of mine, Kelly Heaton. She is an artist who turns Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls into coats and works of art.

Bibiota consists of two separate interactive works using children’s toys. Reflective Loop, a computer-activated wall of “Furby” toys that react to viewers’ proximity, is already completed. The second, Live Pelt, is a piece of women’s fashion apparel made entirely from previously owned “Tickle Me Elmo” dolls, which have been “eviscerated” to create the sculpture. Live Pelt also includes a scrapbook of photos from the previous owners of the dolls. When Live Pelt is touched or worn, it vibrates and giggles, providing a grotesquely humorous experience for the viewer. Additional elements of the Bibiota installation a series of photographs of young girls wearing commercially available Tickle Me Elmo costumes and a video of Heaton herself wearing the Live Pelt sculpture in public.

Well, the humor in me couldn’t resist writing up this faux story.

RALEIGH (January 10, 2003) — Stuffed-Animal Rights Activists of Raleigh (SARAR) marched in front of Duke University’s East Campus Art Studio today in protest of an art exhibit featuring “Bibiota” by artist Kelly Heaton.

Heaton’s “Bibiota” includes several pieces of art that were made from skinned Tickle Me Elmo pelts, the pink, furry, and laughable stuff-animal that was made popular in the mid-1990s.

One piece, “Dead Pelt”, took more than 400 Furby pelts to create a red-and-white Santa Claus fur outfit.

“It’s absurd how she [Heaton] treats these lovable animals,” says SARAR president and founder Ted D. Bear. “She’s skinned more than 400 Elmos! This is not art,” says Bear, slamming his fist on the table. “This is stuffed-animal cruelty!”

Members of SARAR marched for four hours today carrying signs that read, “Tickle me, hug me, but don’t skin me” and “From pick to red, Kelly’s cut off Elmos’ head.”

Heaton’s show is scheduled for a New York gallery, where SARAR plans on protesting next.

Heaton could not be reached for comment.

In today’s world of lawyers and political correctness, this story might not be too far fetched. Any rate, it was good to read about Kelly.