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masks

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“I would but find what’s there to find,
Love or deceit.”
“It was the mask engaged your mind,
And after set your heart to beat,
Not what’s behind.”
–from The Mask, William Butler Yeats

Masks have always fascinated me. People have been making and wearing them for thousands of years. The earliest ones found are over 9,000 years old.

The only piece of art I’ve ever regretted not buying was a teal colored plaster mask of a woman’s face on display in a booth at the Sausalito Art Festival many years ago. The mini installation above consists of a leaf-shaped fan I’ve been carting around for years, an elaborate dream catcher my partner and I got from an artist at the downtown farmers’ market in San Rafael one summer evening, and a paper mache mask he made of the upper part of his face before I met him (and before his deviated septum was corrected).

I’ve always thought it would be interesting to make a mask from a mold of my own face. For a while, I knew of a local artist who taught mask-making classes, but I never followed through. I might yet do it, though. I found these detailed instructions on how to make a paper mache mask. It’s a messy process and seems like the kind of thing that would be more fun to do in a group.

Beyond being fun, making a mask can be a more meaningful, even a transformational, experience:

Artists use a wide range of materials for the masks they make. Spokane artist Annie Libertini makes gorgeous leather masks. Click the link below to check out how she does it and what her creations look like.

Watch Transformational Masks on PBS. See more from Northwest Profiles.

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