Monday, April 12, 2010

Sculpting A Life - Making Masks

By Susan Gallacher-Turner

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. For the month of April, I get to share my love of mask making with other mask makers and mask art lovers atDoll Gardner Gallery. This group show features some of my favorite mask makers.

If you'd like to see more of my masks and sculpture, please visit my website at Susan Gallacher-Turner Sculpture and to read about my creative process you can visit my blog Sculpting a Life.

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