Associate Dean of Student Affairs for Health and Wellness
This mask as object
The fabric is tough, thick cotton, rough on the outside, but the inside layer is soft against my face. The stitches are tight, the thread is strong. Each layer was sewn separately and then attached to make a whole. The folds in the fabric are generous, so the mask expands to fit my face, your face, as needed.
The metal band (not wire or plastic) sewn into the top seam means I can fit the mask tightly across the bridge of my nose. If you wear glasses, you know how much this feature matters.
The straps are brightly colored elastic, thin and adjustable, so they do not dig into the backs of my ears. They are long enough that, if I wanted to, I could attach the mask across the back of my head, to save my slightly sore ears.
Figuring out how to make a mask that is tight, secure, comfortable, and wearable is not easy. It takes planning, table space, tinkering, and attention to detail. It takes steady hands, patience, collaboration.
Those qualities carry grace with them, grace willed into being in a time of fear, hate, need, and death.
Those qualities sustain, protect, endure.
This mask as art
These masks are beautiful. These masks are more than objects. These masks are more than beautiful.
I like knowing that silkscreened images of Nicole Cherubini’s installation Shaking the Trees were cut into rectangles and sewn to make these masks. If you have seen the original, you can pick out the parts—the floor, the plants, the tiles. I would know that lawn chair anywhere. The installation was designed to encourage community conversation and to offer space for contemplation. COVID took the physical space from us, but not the need for connection and contemplation.
These masks mean that we do not allow COVID to close our doors completely. We carry the art with us, carry the Tang with us, our faces turned into gallery walls.
Sending the masks into the world activates their intent, knits our community together. We make the space anew as we protect each other.
These masks are pieces cut up, separated but still linked if you look closely enough.
Thank you for these masks. Thank you for creating them. Thank you for wearing them.