Paulette Richards survived a ten month stint in Senegal as a 2013/ 2014 Fulbright Scholar without contracting any tropical diseases, but sometime during her service as an artist in residence at the Institut français de Saint Louis, the puppet bug bit her hard. After returning to Atlanta she became a docent in the Worlds of Puppetry Museum at the Center for Puppetry Arts. When fellow members of Decatur Makers introduced her to Arduino microprocessors and stepper motors, she immediately thought of the animatronic dogs and Doozers in the Henson gallery at the museum and began designing her own rudimentary robots. Richards has taught animatronic puppetry workshops at the Friends School of Atlanta, Decatur Makers, the Dekalb County Public Library, the Center for Puppetry Arts, and the Puppeteers of America 2017 National Festival. During the 2017/ 2018 academic year she worked as an Innovator in Residence at Hollis Innovation Academy. Her mission in this encore career is to engage students who might not otherwise see themselves as innovators in STEM disciplines through animatronic puppetry. Artist statement
I see my puppetry as tinged by a distinct African American cultural heritage. That heritage includes visual elements such as color palettes and iconic gestures, sound elements such as musical genres and vocal intonation patterns as well as traditions of word play and storytelling. It also includes a distinct point of view rooted in African American historical experience.  Dolls are one of my most important sources of inspiration. My interest in puppetry came from the desire to animate my dolls. To me African American puppets are those built or performed by African Americans, regardless of what the puppet looks like. How did you learn your craft?
Workshops at the Center for Puppetry Arts, PofA festivals, and the O'Neill Theater Center Puppetry Conference.

Paulette Richards Location
Atlanta, GA Date of birth
1962 Years active in puppetry
2015 - present Types of puppets performed and built
Hand puppets, rod puppets, hand-and-rod puppets, marionettes, masks, automata, animatronics Representative productions
Blacks and Bays (2017) Contribution to Living Objects essays
“It’s not easy bein’ green: greenface and the jazzy frog trope” Website