My mask was created from hand dyed silks, as well as lace, cheesecloth, muslin, tatted lace, and all kinds of fabrics, along with beading. Here is the artist statement.
Natasha Lehrer Lewis
From a young age and all through to the end of our lives, we wear a mask of a certain sort. When we are children, we learn that sometimes being something different than who we really are can earn us friends, acceptance and a sense of belonging. We start putting on our mask then. It’s a transparent mask at this point, a lot of our personality still shows through.
However, as we grow older a few more layers are added. A few of life’s hurts and scars build upon our transparency and we discover that it is easier to show people the mask rather than our real feelings. People ask how we are and we answer with half- truths because it is just easier than revealing what is deep inside of us. People ask us for opinions and we answer with half-truths because it is the socially-correct way to interact. Our masks begin to become more layered with the importance of our appearance, status and accomplishments and the real us begins to grow dim.
As we reach the end of our lives, our masks are built up of so many experiences and memories. Each adds a layer to the mask and sometimes when we are by ourselves, we take off that mask and reminisce fondly, or perhaps bitterly, or quietly and reflectively. Those layers have made us, they write our story. Who are we really? What shines forth from our inner soul- our true spirit- over the years of life that we have passed through?
This mask tells that story. Inside, the colors were selected to represent light, faith, serenity, and passion. These emotions shape our thoughts, our perspective and our drive for life. These shades also reflect some of the harshness in our character that shape us as well, things like greed, jealousy, anger and indifference that can affect every aspect of our interactions. It is hidden on the inside. If one puts on this mask, this is not what people around them will see. But we know it is there. We can reveal it if we so choose.
On the outside we do see that inner soul shining out, beaming like a ray of light. Where else could it shine forth but in the eyes? We see in one eye that it is stronger, more brilliant. The other eye is clouded by the mask. The layers are more transparent around the eyes as our light melts away the mask’s layers. Wrinkles and creases form in the fabric around the eyes and forehead, years of worry writing their story upon our mask. There are tear stains on the cheeks from hurts that we feel, symbolized by cheesecloth. The lace represents an outward grace that we put on, it is knowing how to look and feel so we can appear full of poise and dignity. Even the mouth is covered in light layers of lace and silk, as we realize how essential it is to let our words mask our inner light.
As you work towards the edge of the mask, the fabrics become heavier and more layered. They are bits of memory fabrics, each one signifying a layer of life. These small bits are added with time, experiences, and lessons that shape who we are. Their varying textures and shades of white add dimension and interest to the mask. Each moment, day and year that goes by in our lives, we add pieces to this mask, in essence, it is never finished but an evolving piece of who we are.
Let us not focus on the mask, but instead on the light that is melting through our layers. Beads highlight and draw your attention back to the inner soul that is permeating the layers we’ve built. Gleaming, shimmering and reflective beads, they are like sunbeams dancing, raindrops lingering, and glory radiating.
Like the way that heaven meant for a bit of the Creator to shine forth in creation, let us turn our sights to allowing the inner soul to shine forth. Life may suggest otherwise, but we cannot accomplish anything more successful, attain anything more glorious, or offer anything more inspirational than this: being who we were created to be to the world around us.