When Ms. Martinez travels, she will sometimes bring one of her own five reborn dolls to photograph people’s reactions. She prefers to carry them in open bags because she feels uneasy putting them into closed containers, and her suitcases are always searched by airport security if a doll shows up in a scan. This leads to unusual encounters — like when other people in line get upset thinking that a real baby is about to be harmed by X-rays as they pass through security (Slide 13).

“These dolls are very powerful objects,” she said. “If I bring one of these dolls out, there’ll be a group of people around me very, very fast. They soon know it’s not real, but people have very strong reactions. I’ve seen people who will hold them, and their bodies will start responding and they’ll be rocking them. And then they realize and feel a little embarrassed.”