On my way to a Fine Arts degree, I did a stint in the University of Ottawa’s Theatre department. While there I took a mask workshop give by Felix Mirbt and his troupe, which left an indelible mark on my art and my thinking.  Working with masks from the Commedia and Classical Greek traditions, I experienced the power of the mask first-hand.

The mask’s near universal ability to transform the self has a long, historical tap root.   Our human habit of Other-ing, that is: making too much of our differences and characterizing the natural world as alien, can be changed to an empathetic understanding and identification with the so-called Other.  By contemplating the mask’s persona, we come to a visceral understanding of the other’s character; we can experience the life force of the Hare, the Raven, the Silent Spring.

The transformative potential of the mask has been a lifelong touchstone and talisman for me. So it’s no wonder that in this era of climate change, I turn to the totemic animal world for inspiration.  May the masks of the sacred Hare, the Raven, the Stag and the Silent Spring inspire you to identify once again with the natural world.

Materials & methods: I use classic and contemporary materials to make the masks: papier-mâché, cloth-mâché, Buckram and the gamut of acrylic media, including modeling paste and interference colours.  The highly decorated surfaces are the result of elaborate découpage and appliqué work.

Le Masque, engin de la transformation 

L’ornant ainsi d’une surface compliquée mais subtile, le masque d’un être sacré et naturel nous invitent à faire un examen minutieux de son personnage. Devant lui dans un état contemplatif, il peut nous interroger de cette façon: “Avez vous l’esprit assez ouvert pour vous identifier à la Nature?  Rejeter l’idée que le monde naturel soit toujours l’Autre, et joignez vous à moi. En assumant mon aspect, vous aurez accès à une créativité qui pourrait résoudre nos problèmes environnementaux. Tout ce qu’il nous faut c’est de reconnaître notre consanguinité, et d’agir!”