Sunday, January 24, 2016

Art Journal: The Mask We Hide Behind

My latest art journal: an 8 page book, hand made from cold-press watercolour paper. Acrylic paint, paint pen, collage,
and water soluble crayons.
Last week a friend and co-worker died suddenly. The news was greeted with complete disbelief. Everyone at work walked around in a daze. He was here, and then he was not. Just like that. I had known this man for about 12 years. Maybe longer... hard to remember exactly after so long. But at the moment, with the events surrounding his death, I'm pretty sure I didn't know him well at all.

All this got me thinking about how we hide parts of ourselves from the people around us. I remember someone once telling me they loved working with me because I was so easy going. Uh... what??? Easy going is one thing I am not. Just ask my husband. Or my mom. But in that environment, with those people, it made more sense to be the easy going worker bee that did whatever was asked. I didn't even think about it. I just did it. Now there is the whole social media thing... who posts stuff about how much they hate their job, or the bad hair cut, or the $50 they wasted on something that didn't turn out to be quite as advertised? No one, that's who. It's all a performance aimed at making us look good in the eyes of others. It's a mask. One that only comes off in private.

Masks have always held some kind of strange fascination for me. I love going to the museum and looking at old, carved wooden masks from all over the world. I even have a couple in my home bought from a local carver. I have a pinterest board devoted to them. I've read books about native folklore and the reasons for the various ceremonial masks. It's fascinating.  I was thinking of starting a series of small portraits of my various coworkers (I work at a large company... I wouldn't run out of subjects for a very long time), but now I'm wondering if I can somehow combine that with my love of masks? Don't know, but I may do a few more of these in my journal... just to see.