Paula Kermiet Connolly
American Square Dances
American Square Dances, international
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Paula Kermiet Connolly is a long-time square dance caller. She, along with Teri Rassmusson and Frances Waller, formed the Colorado Friends of Old Time Music and Dance (CFOOTMAD) organization.
Paula is part of the Ritchie family of Viper, Kentucky. She is niece to the renowned folk singer Jean Ritchie and direct descendent to "Uncle" Solomon Everidge (Paula’s great-great grandfather), who donated the land for the Hindman Settlement School in Eastern Kentucky. Her mother and father were Pauline and Paul Kermiet. A brother, Chris Kermiet, is also an accomplished square dance caller.
Paula has been making exceptional corn husk dolls for over 30 years. She learned from her aunts, Mallie Ritchie, Kitty Ritchie Singleton, and May Ritchie Deschamp. They were all accomplished corn husk doll crafters. May was one of the first to develop the rough dolls the family played with as children into more elaborate ones. May was the eldest of 14 Ritchie children. Several of May's dolls are part of the Smithsonian Institute collection.
Corn husk doll-making is a folk art form perhaps as old as the cultivation of corn. In this country, the dolls were plentiful in Native American cultures and in the Appalachian Mountains, where toys were constructed from available materials. They were usually very roughly made, but today are found to be more elaborate and decorative.
Paula not only makes the traditional "Ritchie" style dolls, but experiments in creating new styles of her own. All work on her dolls is hand-crafted solely by Paula, including the small braided baskets, the crocheted hats and baskets, and other extras, which make her dolls so unique.
Paula enjoyed living several years in Eastern Kentucky, working at the Hindman Settlement School and as an Artist-In-Residence in Breathitt County through the Kentucky Arts Commission. She now lives and works in Boulder, Colorado, but still spends time in Eastern Kentucky whenever she can.
Paula's love for her Kentucky roots and the carrying on of a family craft are evident in the high quality of the dolls she produces. A corn husk doll made by Paula Kermiet Connolly is a real collectors' item and a joy to own.