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Face Mask as a Canvas: Urban Arts Crawl Juried Art Exhibition

On view September 25 – October 25, 2020

See works by Mary Milliken, Leah Sorensen and Shannah Warwick from the safety of the sidewalk at The Rockwell as part of this community-wide walking exhibition

full exhibition details

The face mask has become a highly charged symbol of defiance/solidarity, self-expression/disguise, and beauty/functionality. All in all, it has become the symbol of the COVID era. In this special exhibition, artists have created a wearable fine art face mask as a means of expressing their view of these strange and intense times.

A Hard Pill To Swallow
by Mary Milliken

For much of quarantine, I have been very angry at what I perceive to be the American government's disdain for its own people. However, nothing compares to the disdain and apathy the government has demonstrated in its treatment of Black Americans. I have been consumed with grief and anger at the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, and have channeled much of that anger into protesting and creating artwork. My mask is a manifestation of my anger and grief: depictions of fire, representations of blood, and reminders of the victims. But another layer of my mask is that I, as a cis-het white woman, am extraordinarily privileged. Whiteness is a mask, one that protects those who wear it. By being white in America, I am protected and experience much more safety and much less fear than Black Americans do.

Deaf Ears by Leah Sorensen

Lots of shouting, little listening. Chained to our ideas and committed to the fight. Are we open to the truth, or do we only want to hear what is pleasing to our ears? Tell me what I want to hear.

Holding It Together
by Shannah Warwick

Many of us are working hard to hold ourselves together in one way or another. Whether the blackness of depression, anxiety, or anger is dripping out of us or getting flung at us through interactions or social media, it’s present. The masks we wear may be protecting us or others. The energy around us is palpable. For some it’s comforting, for others it’s frustrating, and for yet others it’s overwhelming. Some days I can’t tell where it’s all coming from, but I do know things are being purged. The materials I’ve added to the red mask base are representative of the dark shadows our world is examining.

The mask serves as a canvas, and the artists are encouraging us to explore themes around protection, mental health, activism, breath, and identity, to name a few.

See these special masks in this social-distance friendly exhibition, in the windows of your favorite Urban Arts Crawl venues.


Urban Arts Crawl is proudly presented by: 
The Rockwell Museum, The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, and Urban Corning.
Made possible with support from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes 

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