The Future Has an Ancient Face

Scroll to view exhibition images followed by process.

October 3-30, 2021
Galatea Fine Art, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
🔴 = has been sold to a collector

Thank you for visiting THE FUTURE HAS AN ANCIENT FACE installation.

I believe we are all interconnected, and that artists find common souls and concerns to create their work. Consequently, what you think and what we all hear and read in our whirling world helped me to create the masks for this installation.

March 2020
Silk thread, gold & copper leaf, beads) on cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5 inches

All over our planet, while the virus put its information into a one person’s cell and told that cell to make more of itself, I made masks. 

“2020” opens the door to the collection. She is metallic, ancient looking, a bit frightening. The ‘dog star’ Sirius, prominent in the March sky, is embroidered on her skull. Searing and scorching, Sirius is a dog so swift no one can outrun her. 

Wuhan: The Marketplace 🔴
Silk thread, inks, metallic wax and found objects on cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5 inches

Wuhan took the world’s families to one marketplace to do their shopping.

This art mask is seductive, gentle, and beautiful; jade waxed with gold. She does not look you in the eye and her lips are sew shut.

On the Nile: Travel 🔴
Swarovski crystals, linen thread, gold leaf on cartapesta

A virus is a piece of information that just can’t carry on on its own. It needs hosts. In March 2020 dozens of Floridians who travelled on the Nile and brought it home.

This gold mask features a circle of crystals below her nose and a gold circle on her forehead. Circles within circles reinforce a universal movement, like a pebble tossed in water.

Shedding: Sharing
Ribbon, pins, fiber, hair on painted cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5 inches

Many exhibit visitors told me they knew someone who looked like this mask. I liked to compare her to the Peanuts comic strip character Pig-Pen, who considered his shedding "the dust of ancient civilizations.”

“Shedding: Sharing” reminds us what goes around comes around.

Lockdown: Heal 🔴
Studs, foils, chains on painted cartapesta

Lockdown took a toll on us all.

The “Lockdown: Healing” mask is stitched inside and out with symbols of infinity and prosperity. The tacks around the eyes are the ‘tactics’ we learned to cope with our situation. 

RBG: Justice
Stains, foils, lashes, Elizabethan ruffle on cartapesta
12 x 7 x 6 inches

Seven months into the lockdown, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died (September 18, 2020).

“Justice: RBG” sits on an Elizabethan collar, which she said she wore to deliberately feminize the traditionally male Supreme Justice black-robe uniform. The mask is blue, waxed with silver; silver being a mirror to encourages the viewer to reflect upon the responsibilities of justice and freedom.

Science: Clarify
Paint, threads, pearl studs on painted cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5 inches

This rose-colored mask, with eyes stitched closed over sweet gum tree pods that resemble Covid cells, is marked with five wisdom spots: speech, sight. listening and understanding.

Pennsylvania: Gone Fishing (for Votes)
Beads, gems, thread, Yuengling Beer caps on painted cartpersta
11 x 7 x 7.7 inches

Pennsylvania's governing framework inspired both the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. It’s the land of the first American brewery,Yuengling; and where 80% of the nation's pretzels are made and consumed. These attributes can be found on the mask, as well as the state fish’s skin (the trout). 

In November 2020, our politicians went ‘fishing’ for votes in Pennsylvania.

December: Shake It Up (Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn)
Rhinestones, sequins, studs on painted cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5 inches

In December 2020, both the astronomical and astrological worlds were aflutter with news about the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction. The planets had not been this close in the sky for nearly 800 years.

Color? “In the pink” indicates good spirits. I used lip stain and rouge, too, and glued thumbnails of Nativity scenes inside the eyes.

Navajo Nation: Sanctify 🔴
Feathers, gold, acorns on painted cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5 inches

The Navajo Nation experienced uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus, perhaps because households tended to be multi-generational.

This mask celebrates the dignity of our tribal nations and its tradition of living in harmony with nature. The eyes are acorns; the dove feathers are tipped with gold. 

Gallery view of 2020 pandemic masks

Mid-March 2020 I found myself in the house with my recently retired husband and recently unemployed daughter--two people whom I hadn’t been glued to like icing on a cake for over twenty years. I didn’t go to my studio, which is in a large building shared with over 100 factory workers. 

I set up a studio on the top of my washing machine in a windowless laundry room. I used my daughter's face; familiar materials (paper, glues, plaster, paint); and created masks as a metaphor for the protection we were all seeking.

The work resulted in the installation THE FUTURE HAS AN ANCIENT FACE, a visual-social history of the first two years of the pandemic.

Gentleness: Deer and New Moons
Gouache on cartapesta
15 x 19 x 10 inches

In January 2022, my cousin Dan, a Western Pennsylvania Deer Hunter, sent me a set of antlers. At the time I was researching Old Europe artifacts as catalogued by Lithuanian archeologist Marija Gimbutas. She had found many symbols of deer in Neolithic culture.

The deer symbolism on the mask expresses the hope for regeneration, gentleness, and grace; the new moon crescents promise new beginnings. 

'Turning the Corner' Gallery view

I made masks of the world as it passed by. The human face was my canvas. It was my system of seeing.

From right to left: Stargazer: Before Words, All My Exs Live in Texas, The Moon is Not Always Full, Pheasant.

Stargazer: Before Words
Cartapesta head with Swarovski crystals, Plexi, pear wood, concrete, copper, steel.
61 x 10 x 10 inches

The original Stargazer (3000 BC) sculpture is in the Cleveland Art Museum. My mother, who grew up in Cleveland, took me to see it--along with the museum’s collection of shrunken heads--when I was very young.

For me, mother-daughter is the most intimate, unconditional love I’ve experienced. It begins when we are pre-verbal; before language layers meaning onto love. 

Stargazer & Cold and Stormy
Cartapesta sculptures

My Stargazer sculpture is a beautiful young woman’s head (molded over my daughter’s face) resting on a slice of blue sky. Her blue eyes are crystals looking upwards. Her skin glitters. The body is a pear tree from our garden. The concrete block base is filled with chunks of rose quartz, pale pink stones traditionally used to invite love.

Cold & Stormy: All My Exs Live in Texas (side)
Gouache painted cartapesta on Plexi shelf
14 x 17 x 12 inches

Winter Storm Uri hit Texas in the cold, cold days of February 2021. The state’s electric grid collapsed. Blackouts extended from hours to days. People lost electricity, heat, water.

Inspired by the Hindu goddess Ushas (Dawn), the sculpture urge forth sun, light and warmth.

Cold & Stormy: All My Exs Live in Texas (front)
Gouache painted cartapesta, Plexi shelf
14 x 17 x 12 inches

There’s a dark map of Texas painted on the sides of the head; acrobatic ravens protect the outline of the state. The dots and dashes on the front of the face trace the path of the winter storm.

Fluctuate ( The Moon Is Not Always Full)
Acrylic on cartapesta
26 x 9 x 4 inches (triptych)

The pandemic seemed to reach the end of its cycle and begin all over the moon.

In my house, we were three in a ‘submarine’ managing claustrophobia and mental health, working and socializing virtually, cooking and watching TV, learning to respect each others’ boundaries.

Fluctuate & Roaming, Honest & Luck

By mid-January 2021 Operation Warp Speed intended to swiftly roll out coronavirus vaccines to the public. Health officials enlisted regional and supermarket pharmacies ahead of schedule to address possible delays, and snafus.

Roaming, Honest & Luck: Pheasant
Gouache, pencils and feathers on cartapesta
23 x 7 x 8 inches

In Pennsylvania, because of too many factors to list here, pheasants are now raised on game farms and released from cages by Game Commissioners. One year I shadowed a Game Commissioner and saw that moments after take-off the birds flipped upside down and fell back to the ground. Seemed like what the virus variants were doing to us when we stepped outside to experience freedom.

Creativity: The Artist 🔴
Gouache on cartapesta
10 x 9 x 9 inches

My Uncle John was an actor. In his house, there was a huge portrait of him standing next to a six-foot three rabbit named Harvey. That painting may have been a way-back inspiration for this mask. Truthfully, however, it started out as a January 6 mask based on the face of the man who wore a horned fur hat. I couldn’t go through with it. I turned the horns into ears and painted the face white: a vulnerable, fertile, and lucky rabbit.

Creativity: The Artist with Artist Smock 🔴
Gouache on cartapesta with paint marked lab coat

If a medical person were wearing the coat it would be white, but it is splattered with paint. We might consider the musician, filmmaker, poet, and artist a front line worker who speaks to, entertains and cares for souls. One pocket of the garment holds a surgical mask; the other latex gloves. A threaded needle weaves itself into a pocket.

Relationship: We Met Online
acrylic on cartapesta
12 x 9 x 6 inches

How do you meet a sweet someone during a pandemic? For young men and women in search of a lover, pandemic was the ultimate ‘it’s-not-easy’ ; for women it was a delay in reproduction opportunity. 

This mask does not have eyes and, therefore, proceeds blindly in the blue light of late-night on-line dating.

Replication: Reinvent
Gouache, inks, pencil on cartapesta
12 x 12 x 7.5 inches

Double joy and un-joy! Summer 2021 rolled in, coronavirus was on the wane and we were vaccinated. Then, roughly twice as transmissible as the Wuhan strain, Delta hit us after the 4th of July.

Transform: Snake
Gouache on plaster embedded cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5 inches

The serpent sheds its skin and moves on.  

2021 (on pedestal)
Mixed media on revolving platform with sculpture stand
50 x 12 x 12 inches

Between March 2020 and September 2021, I rotated between CNN, MSNBC and Fox. No matter the network, breaking news cycles overlapped and lasted approximately 3-5 days. I listened for repetition of words and heard Wuhan, shedding, replication, lockdown, science, social distance. quarantine, school closures, economic chaos and masks, masks, masks.

2021 (detail)
Paint, stains, tin star crown on plaster embedded cartapesta
bust (full head) sculpture

A desire to document engaged my expertise with materials and mask history. Looking through a mask: artistically, and in real time, at the past and what might be coming, was my system of witnessing the fiendishly simple virus that evolved so quickly.

Gallery view of emerging from the pandemic corner

My practice during this time contributed to the collective reaction of artists all over the world who responded to the pandemic through visual art and language.

Sensitivity: We Woke Up
Pastel, gouache, Tibetan earrings on cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5

I used pastels to mark the surface of this mask with skin colors, not forgetting anyone.

Kindness: Green Pastures
Watercolor on cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5 inches

This delicate mask depicts the beautiful landscape that I saw while looking out of the airplane window during the first flight I took out of Boston after a long lockdown.

Rebirth: Every 17 Years 🔴
Gouache on plaster embedded cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5

Billions of cicadas--a.k.a. The Great Eastern Brood -- emerged in a swath from Tennessee to New York in mid-summer, 2021. There’s no reason for these periodical cicadas to have prime-numbered life spans, but they do, and they make a lot of noise. The cicada’s business is simply to make more of itself—that’s its only job--just like the virus.

Dogs Guarding the Tree of Life 🔴
Gouache on plaster embedded cartapesta
10 x 8 x 7.5 inches

The huge 700-square-foot Tree of Life mosaic floor of Otranto Cathedral, in Salento, Italy, inspired this mask. At the bottom of the mosaic, a handful of cats guard the Tree of Life. For the mask, I converted the cats to dogs and added snails on the skull, which transform to butterflies over the mask’s eyes.

Redemption: Mask of Pandemics Past/Passed (side view) 🔴
Acrylic and gouache on hardened cartapesta
10 x 12 x 8 inches

The marks on this mask pay homage to Minoan culture and reminds us that just as ancient cultures survived, we moderns too will survive.

Redemption: Mask of Pandemics Past/Passed (with floating garment) 🔴
Cartapesta art mask with hangar suspended 3-d gown painted with gold and gold thread stitching.
65 x 12 x 12 inches

The masks in this collection--created with a loving nudge from Nike, the Goddess of Victory-- portray an intersection of art, myth, and history. There are additional masks in this series, not pictured here, made after September 2021. 

Each reminds us to pick up the lightening bolt, to ride fast, to not be capricious.

Process images