NHMLAC Presents L.A. at Play: Monthly Online Series Celebrating L.A.’s Multicultural Communities and Artists through Dolls and Figurines

Series launches February 1, 2023, with an episode featuring sculptor and 
concept artist Jordu Schell
Los Angeles — The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) launched today the second season of NHM Online, a digital-first multimedia series honoring the incredible diversity of Los Angeles’ communities and the artists, makers, and more who represent them. L.A. at Play: Dolls & Figurines takes a deep and unique look at the cultures and communities of L.A.’s doll history and will highlight makers and creators connected to local pop culture and fandoms. Every month, viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making some of L.A.’s most famous dolls and figurines, including Barbie, L.A. Dodgers bobble-heads, and Marvel action figures, as well as those representing individual heritages, including Native American dolls made of natural materials and Japanese figurines.
NHM Online kicked off in 2022 with Kneaded: L.A. Bread Stories, a monthly series focusing on local heritages through the unified theme of bread. This year’s series will present the story of one artist or designer a month between February and November and will include videos and stories of the makers and their connection to community, fandoms and collectors. NHM’s own doll collection will be featured as well.
“So many of us have childhood memories of our favorite dolls and figurines. L.A. at Play celebrates Los Angeles in such a unique way, bringing people together through nostalgia, joy, and hands-on play. We’re thrilled to be able to research and share these stories, which demonstrate our commitment to collaboration with local artists and communities,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, NHMLAC President and Director.
In February, the Museum spotlights Jordu Schell, a sculptor and concept artist who has been working in the film and television industries for over 30 years, and is one of only a few African American creature artists in his field. A big fan of NHM, he has found inspiration from the Museum’s Entomology and Live Animals collections to create some of film’s most iconic creatures. He began his career as a sculptor and Halloween mask maker and first started designing special effects on Bride of Re-Animator. He was instrumental in the creation of the Na’vi and other creatures in James Cameron’s blockbuster film Avatar, shaping the designs of the characters using physical sculptures. Over the years Schell has conceptualized creatures and characters for major projects including Hellboy, 300, Men In Black, Edward Scissorhands, Predator, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He also teaches classes in sculpting and design at his studio in Chatsworth and often lends his skills and talents to the video game industry.
February: Jordu Schell – Creature Artist & Character Designer
March: Carlyle Nuera – Mattel Lead Designer (Barbie)
April: Rosanna & Ofelia Esparza – Altaristas
May: Angie Liu – Social Media Senior Manager (American Girl)
June: Eric Nakamura – Giant Robot Shop Owner and /JapaneseFigurine Designer
July: Kamala Khan – Hasbro Designer (Kamala Khan Ms Marvel)
August: Alex Evans – Bob Baker Marionette Theatre
September: Mark Langill, Ross Yoshida – Los Angeles Dodgers Historian (Bobbleheads)
October: TBA
November: Kimberly Johnson – Gabrielino Tongva Band of Mission Indians (Native American dolls)
To learn more about L.A. at Play, visit NHM.ORG/LAatplay. To receive monthly updates of future L.A. at Play episodes, subscribe to NHM’s monthly newsletter.
About the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County:
The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) include the Natural History Museum, La Brea Tar Pits, and the William S. Hart Museum. They operate under the collective vision to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds. The museums hold one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—more than 35 million objects. Using these collections for groundbreaking scientific and historical research, the museums also incorporate them into on- and offsite nature and culture exploration in L.A. neighborhoods, and a slate of community science programs—creating indoor-outdoor visitor experiences that explore the past, present, and future. Visit NHMLAC.ORG for adventure, education, and entertainment opportunities.