Friday, April 9, 2010

Making Masks - In the Studio

I love to make masks. I don't know why, I just do. And in spite of some of my art teachers who told me that making masks was 'craft' and not 'fine art', I've followed my own heart in my art and I keep making them. I've made masks out of paper, clay, copper, plaster, and aluminum mesh. I've made masks for costumes, indoor art and garden art. I've even made a mask for a centerpiece in a copper oak leaf wreath. I’ve worked with adults, elementary, middle school students and teachers making masks for plays and as art pieces. I’ve seen the transformative power of masks for the maker and wearer alike.

Masks are magic. Making them, becomes a journey for me into the world of story and myth. I've researched the symbolism of animals in different cultures, mythical beasts, cultural folktales. I've learned that masks have been created and used by people from all over the world for almost as long as man has been on the earth. They've been used for healing, spiritual ceremonies, story telling, dramatic performances, entertainment and holidays.

The Latin word for ‘mask’ is ‘persona’. And, indeed, wearing a mask does change our person in many ways. It changes the shape of our face, concealing us. It changes our attitude or emotions. It changes our character or role. Wearing a mask, you can become a different ‘persona’. You can become a playful pup, fierce lioness, mythical dragon or powerful thunderbird. You can become anything you desire or detest. You can conquer your fears. Touch wonder. Feel your wisdom. And embrace your freedom.

To me masks are powerful and life changing pieces of art. And no matter what happens in my life, I am going to continue to follow my heart and make them. This weekend, I get to share my love of mask making with other mask makers and mask art lovers at a group show at the Doll Gardner Gallery.


goldenbird said...

I love reading that you are following your heart despite being told masks are 'craft' instead of art. I find it inspiring. Your masks are beautiful and I am particularly drawn to the metal ones.

Congrats on the group show, that must be very exciting.

Janet Grace Riehl said...


Good to see a continuation of your powerful mask series.

I like seeing you in the studio as your blog's masthead. That echos how one can sculpt a life.

Janet Riehl

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

It's always a little scary to 'let the cat out of the bag' so to speak and share this with others. I'm so glad that something bad served to do good by inspiring you!

Thank you so much for your support and appreciation of my masks. The group show was wonderful, great display and equally great to reconnect with other mask makers in my community that I haven't seen in a while.

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

Thanks! I don't always see the 'power' in my masks, but I always feel empowered making them.

So glad you visited, I hope to hear more from you about your creative life, too.