Although it seems to be an acronym, IMPS is the proper name of the line of handmade dolls framed as wall art created by Berkeley school teacher Sandra J. Hayden and her sister Carol J. Delaney, displayed at Rainbow Sign Gallery in August of 1972.
Ms. Hayden described their conception to the Sun Reporter:
“teaching two-year olds to four-year olds demands innovation and creativity. Capturing and retaining the attention of these fledgling students requires tremendous energy and thought. During the period of time when learning focused on differentiating between colors, the idea for the “IMPS” germinated. I started using primary colors to create ‘little people’ with whom my wee students could relate. The first ‘IMPS’ were received with such enthusiasm, I received a number of requests for them. It soon became apparent that there was a real demand for the ‘IMPS.'”
Each doll is designed with children in mind, both as the viewers and the subjects. The sisters base the personalities of the dolls on that of very young children. No two dolls are made alike and “each detail is painstakingly carried out in scale. Every article of clothing, including the knits, is handmade and detailed,” while still being “priced for everyone’s pocketbook.” Unfortunately, each time one is sold, “The sisters feel almost a sense of personal loss …You see, they are easy to love, because in a very real sense, they are children.”
Rainbow Sign’s artist reception for IMPS also featured a table where children could create their own drawings under the supervision of an Oakland schoolteacher, Marie Green.
The IMPS exhibit further strengthened the bridge between education and art at Rainbow Sign, this time reaching down to its youngest community members.