My Two Left Hands: A Mask for Mom
This mask was started in Open Studio Process with the intention of opening up my heart and awareness to the strength and beauty of my Mom. We began with plaster strips soaked in water, placed over a premade base, using other materials like foil to build up desired features. One interesting part of the process, was in fashioning the hands, which were aluminum foil cast offs that I found in the studio and then repositioned and stabilized by wrapping with masking tape. The mask’s right hand (to the viewer’s left) gave me a lot of trouble. I had to rework it more than several times; the more I tried to make it anatomically correct, the more this mask seemed to demand that I give it two left hands. So be it. Upon reflection, I like this double leftie set up. For me, it became a statement about trusting my intuiton, my right brained perceptions and conclusions. A definite gift from Mom.The touch of a hand is a powerful memory. Gnarled and warm, Mom’s hands were gentle and practical in all things domestic. One hand holds jewels, there for the taking, the other a broken fragment of pottery, to embrace and include that which is less than perfect.Another significant element is the theme of nature. My perhaps clumsy attempts to render the sacred mountain range of Taos where the eyes should be, and to have the red earth below, by the mouth, for sustenance, and the blue sky fading over the forehead into the starred night sky, was my means to include the universal mother archetype of nature in this mask. There was much that was hard to “see” when Mom was suffering. Somehow the mountains and their patient wisdom make it easier.Finally, the blue feather dripping from the mouth by a string. Inspired by dream catchers that we made that weekend in Evanston, the blue feather is about remembering to consider whether or not speaking my personal truth is a kindness, an agent of healing, or if it is more of a kindness to be silent. Truth is truth, spoken or not, and finds its way to awareness.Notes for my fragonista friends: Fragrances worn while working on this mask included Chanel no. 19, my soul scent of green and rose, Bois de Paradis, a fruity floral with a warm sandalwood base, and white florals like Fracas and Tuberose Criminelle, reminiscent of everyday beauty that surrounded Mom and her cohorts working their way through life in Chicago in the late 1940’s.
My Two Left Hands: Plaster, aluminum foil, masking tape, oil paint, thread, ceramic, beads, feather