I WOULD LIKE TO ACKNOWLEDGE FUNDING SUPPORT FROM THE CANADA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS AND FROM THE ONTARIO ARTS COUNCIL, AN AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO.
The use of masks have permeated every culture throughout history, but never more so than in the past 18 months. Covid-19 has forced the world to don these little cloth protectors. My proposed project will investigate not only the physical masks that we’ve all been using but also the psychological and digital masks that we use daily to protect and hide our true selves. The nature of the internets allows users to hide behind screen-names, filters, and photoshop. We can wear masks as armor, protecting ourselves from getting hurt. In a warzone, camouflage, helmets, and gas masks are implemented. The use of a physical mask can block someone from reading the emotions on a face. People implement psychological masks the same way by exaggerating personality traits and emotions to hide the parts of themselves that they want to remain hidden from public view. By doing this we close ourselves off emotionally from authentic relationships.
This project will consist of photorealistic portraits made entirely of fabric. Each face will reach six to eight feet in height. These portraits will exist independent of any background, seeming to float on the wall. Fastened to a heavy piece of industrial felt, and using a wooden support system, the pieces are displayed with enough space away from the wall to allow a shadow to be cast, emphasizing a feeling of transitory motion and frozen moment.
These works will be completed in multiple stages. The first stage is photographing a person in action, then translating the photo into a large-scale drawing to plan out the construction of the piece. Constructing each piece involves cutting and arranging many layers of colours, patterns and textured fabrics to create a nuanced, rich surface. After documenting and archiving this step, I will then cut into the work, peeling back the surface to reveal the backside of the piece, suggesting the duality relationship of a mask and what it protects. When merging the back and front of the piece, new attention must be paid to the parts of the backside that will eventually be visible in the final version. To accomplish this, I will be rendering double-sided portraits. Negative space will be created by cutting and rearranging the surface. The shapes from the negative space will create new surprising juxtapositions as well as obfuscate the viewer from seeing an entire face. As we begin to come out of this pandemic, are we comfortable seeing an unobstructed face? Or do we want to continue to see them covered up?