Masks have a rich history of varied cultural significance, used to protect, disguise or transform those they adorn. Mask-making is a highly revered art form in many societies, practiced by the artisan and passed to the apprentice. In classrooms across the globe, our children learn tradition, ritual and myth as they create masks with their own hands.
But, in the season of costume, I wonder more about the mask so many artists feel compelled to wear. Why do we hide? I say it’s time to take off the mask and reveal the ugly truth.
Yes, this is the face of an artist.
When in the midst of creating an installation, I am lost in the moment. Concentration and problem-solving are core to the creative process, but I believe it is the hand-mind connection that brings me the most satisfaction. The world’s problems disappear and I find a quiet peace that I wish could be sustained forever.
So tell me, why such a sour face?
It was shocking to see myself as others would if they stumbled upon me during an installation. My heart is singing, my fingers are dancing and my mind is in a calming meditative state. The mask I’m wearing does not reflect the sheer joy I’m experiencing as a working artist.
Who is this imposter?
The psychology of imposter syndrome is a very real affliction for many and seems to be rampant among the artist community. Reflecting back over my 50 years, there is no doubt I am an artist and have been traveling a creative path, no matter how winding. Technical sales in the auto-id and telecommunications world may be the mask I wear in my ‘day job’, but it’s the creative spirit beneath that defines me.
So, stand tall, fellow creative, hiding behind a veil of self-doubt, afraid to utter these words: I am an artist. We can see you through the transparent material because an artistic soul is impossible to shroud.
And, while you rise up, I will be routing for all things creative from down below.
Truth or dare
As I bumble my way through the landscape of social media, I’ve seen just how much the world wants to see the face of the artist behind the creations. The overwhelming positive response when posting an image of myself in my element, particularly lying face down in the sand, has been touching and extremely encouraging.
It is the real, raw authenticity of the journey that we can all relate to. We feel connected by the passion to do exactly what we are meant to, no matter how ridiculous we may feel. Truth be told, as soon as we reveal our heart, absurdity vanishes into thin air.
But, I didn’t see this on my own. Deep in creative thought and high on installation wanderlust, I was completely oblivious to the face I wore or the lengths I might go for my art. It took the love of another to show me how others might see me when I’m being true to myself. The gift of this mirror has helped me see my face behind the mask.
As scary as a Scream mask might appear on your doorstep this time of year, let it be a reminder that we as artists need to shout out loud. The world is waiting to hear our voices and see the sparkle in our eyes and the smile on our faces.
Why not take off your mask and let me hear your voice in the comments below?