Visibility Magazine Mask Illustration

For the third year in a row, I was asked to create a piece of art for the Swarthmore College Intercultural Center and their annual zine, Visibility Magazine. (Click the link to check it out.) It's an honor to be asked to come back a third time and work with the students leaders once again.
Initial sketches
They put a lot of trust in me and gave me a lot of freedom to make what I wanted. In thinking about the word visibility and the mission of the Intercultural Center, I thought about ways one's identity can be made visible or invisible. I thought about Paul Lawrence Dunbar and "the mask that grins and lies" and about unmasking neo Nazis after Charlottesville, but I also thought about masks as tools for getting a job done and as storytelling devices... and this image arose.
Top to bottom, left to right: sleep mask, Mardi Gras (New Orleans), scuba mask, surgical mask, Tami Island tago dance mask (Huon Gulf, Papua New Guinea), Hopi kachina mask (Arizona), Yup’ik (Alaska), vejigante (Puerto Rico), Noh theater mask (Japan), Baule (Côte d’Ivoire), Kwakwaka’wakw tsonoqua mask (British Colombia), Guy Fawkes mask, knight’s helmet (Britain, late 13th century), Huichol (Mexico), Topeng dance mask (Indonesia), Nuu-Chah-Nulth (Vancouver), gay pride costume mask, Sepik (Papua New Guinea), Hemba (The Democratic Republic of the Congo), Toltec (Mexico)

I chose a range of masks from around the world, both ancient and contemporary, that tell stories about the history of a people. There were so many more I wanted to include, but overall I'm very happy with this arrangement. I hope they inspire you to be vigilant of what’s below the surface of things and to proudly wear the legacy of your own ancestors in whatever ways feel authentic to you.


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