“ABOUT A MASK” virtually showcases the artwork of Art + Design students sharing their artistic interpretations of the societal, cultural, and historical roles masks play in their daily lives. Through varying mediums showcasing varying perspectives, the students creatively communicate the impact masks have had on them individually, as well as on their communities and beyond.
Russ Bray is a sophomore at MSU, double-majoring in photography and philosophy. Russ’s passion for photography has allowed him to showcase important causes through his images. “I have this freedom to express my feelings and promote platforms like the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement,” shares Russ, “Going to protests [allow me to] capture moments we need to remember–to show us just how much work we have to do on the issues of racism.” These photos were taken at the Springfield BLM protest this summer. “I specifically chose the ones of people in masks to better reflect the theme,” explains Russ.
“I think a lot of artists are the same in that we have a pile of stuff inside, and it feels good to get it out…so we do,” shares Joni Neal, Art + Design student. For Joni, the most rewarding and enjoyable part of the creative process is the continuous spark of thoughts and feelings that alter and edit and re-edit her work. “It’s almost like a conversation,” she explains. The showcasing of love in unexpected places, as well as the kindness of others inspired this specific piece. “The pandemic has hurt so many people, […] my heart breaks for them,” shares Joni, “but there is beauty in the compassion that unites us. That’s something we desperately need more of, and I wanted to highlight that. It gives me hope.”
Kallen Brown is a senior Art + Design student in the dual graphic design and illustration program, with a minor in art history. Initially, Kallen’s piece began as a three-dimensional sculpture, but the impact she desired to make with his message fell short. Her focus shifted to creating a mask out of bandaids, and she added the “bloody mask [to create] the message of duality and journey through the pandemic.” The bloody mask represents the initial Hurting experienced during the beginning of the pandemic, while the mask made out of bandaids represents the Healing the world is striving to achieve. “It is not over, and there is still a long journey to make”, shares Kallen, “but we as individuals have a responsibility to ourselves and others to wear our masks and lessen the impact [of] the virus.”
Gathering inspiration from Jimmy Buffet’s ‘Songs You Know By Heart’ and the summer of uncertainty, Patrick Cunningham created this piece. “Quarantine was still on, and the whole world felt like it was going through a jet lag,” he explains, “so I wanted to not only recontextualize mask-wearing, but also tap into an odd feeling that was hard to place in words.”
You can visit the complete exhibition at this link: ABOUT A MASK. The virtual exhibition was organized by Eric Pervukhin, Professor of Design and Jodi McCoy, Director of Exhibitions.