Island of Misfit Toys

AKRON, Ohio — Some misfit toys received recent pardons.

Instead of being tossed into a landfill, bodyless Barbie dolls, an armless Shrek and cars missing wheels joined a pile of other castoff toys inside the Akron Art Museum.

Children gathered around a table, carefully selecting the toys they wanted to use to create funny sculptures. In the next room, the kids took the toys to the Island of Misfit Toys Workshop. There, with the help of volunteers and parents, they gave the toys new lives.

Uriah Bishop sat at a table wearing an oversized hat in honor of his fourth birthday. He giggled as he lifted his head high enough to see beyond the brim. This was the second year that he and his two sisters participated in the workshop.

"The toys they took home last year are some of their favorites," said Keytsa Bishop, their mother, an Akron, Ohio, artist. "I like bringing them here. I want to share the art experience with them. And they look at the toys differently because it's something they've created."

Employees of the museum, members of the community and Goodwill donated the toys that were used by some 200 workshop participants during three sessions. To add to the holiday magic, guests brought new toys to donate to needy children.

"I made a car last year with boys (super hero figures) glued to the top and sides," said an excited Uriah.

Before their arrival at the museum, Keytsa and her husband, Kurran Bishop, talked to the children about what they would like to make this year. Uriah was the only one who seemed to know what he would design, but at the moment, he was sitting on the floor, playing with cars he had formed into a line.

Back at the table, Uriah's 6-year-old sister, Uriel, was whispering to a doll she was planning to use in her sculpture.

"Hey, stay away from those cars," Uriah warned his kid sister, though Uelle had no intentions of messing with her brother's cherished belongings.

Across the room, Brianna Dawson, 8, rummaged through a bag of old toys that she, her sister, Alyssa, 10, and her mother, Stephanie, brought from their Lodi, Ohio, home.

"We have a lot of broken toys in here," Brianna explained, grabbing the leg of a dismembered Barbie doll.

When asked whether she was making room for new toys she would receive for Christmas, Brianna shrugged.

"I guess so," she said.

Raising her eyebrows, Stephanie quickly interjected; "Yes, that is what Mommy was trying to do."

Nearby, Macy Buck, 9, of Sagamore Hills, Ohio, was assembling a doll to add to her collection, which she started three years ago during a museum workshop.

"We have a lot of weird things at home to make art out of, but not like this," said Macy's mother, Jenny. "The first time we, including (my) daughter, Laney, 10, came down here, we fell in love with it."

They will return next year for doll No. 4.

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