PhillyFolk Artists

Ra’sheeda Bey

African American Quilter and Dollmaker

Growing up in Philadelphia, Ra’sheeda Bey helped her mother and grandmother to make quilts and clothing. Out of the leftover fabric, old socks, and stockings, she made dolls. She has been a dollmaker ever since. Ms Bey has created a line of African American Heirloom Generation-to-Generation dolls, including the “Worry Doll.” She follows a tradition among some African American doll-makers of making dolls without faces, knowing that this allows people to exercise their imaginations. “And they reflect your mood,” she says, speaking of their therapeutic value. “You can tell your doll all your secrets and never worry about your business being spread all over town.” Each doll is unique; many feature cotton mudcloth from Mali, West Africa, as well as beads and decorations.” Ms Bey says, “My dolls are made with pride, dignity and love from the grassroots up!” Her quilts and dolls have been exhibited at the Germantown Historical Society, the National Constitution Center, and elsewhere. In 2010 she received a Leeway Transformation award for her work. She participated in PFP’s 2012 Community Supported Art (CSA program), making 50 unique worry dolls.