The Habitat Masks of Gwynn Popovac

A mask is not an easy thing to grasp.  Its dual nature to display and to conceal makes it, at the very least, mysterious, perhaps disturbing, even scary, but simultaneously profound, beautiful, and possibly sublime.  The mask can provoke many questions:  What is being hidden?  And why?  What is being revealed, and why?  If you were behind one of these masks what might you say to anyone looking at it ?  If a mask spoke to you what would it be saying?  Asking such questions signals a courageous journey into worlds behind our world.

I believe that a mask can elicit a shift in consciousness in whoever looks in… or out.  Its empty eyes are portals that beckon us into an intuitive realm where many things can be known, imagined, reflected upon, and even realized.

Collectively, the masks I make could be regarded as emissaries of natural habitats on Earth, from thriving, abundant systems naturally evolving, and also from threatened struggling places — everyone of them fragile and exquisite and interlaced.  Hopefully habitats still able to communicate with one another, and with us.  What are they here to tell us?  What can we learn from them?

There is something that I’ve strongly felt as the masks have grown in number.  And that is, like a grove of trees, they are much more effective as a group than as separate beings.  They need to convene in order to convey their messages to us in clear and potent ways.

As the human face merges with the textures, shapes and hues of each habitat — ice field, desert, tide pool, river bank, meadows, wetlands, … I hope our link to Nature will emerge as a beautiful dream from our primordial past, our shared future, the Cosmos from which we continue to evolve.  And that we will recognize ourselves as natural beings aware of our essential and inextricable bond with the natural world.

Taking up to three years or more to complete, a mask grows, not as slowly as a coral reef, but nevertheless very slowly and with a persistence which is reflected in its detail — detail beyond any care I imagined I could ever give to anything, even to the braiding of my own daughter’s hair.  I would never try to devise a way to rush this process.  The way each mask reveals itself to me is unpredictable and beyond any consideration of time while I’m working on it.  There is no lust for results.  A careful pace, over-lapped with contemplation, is an act of respect and reverence for what inspired each mask in the first place — our planet — in its endless process of unfolding and infolding, glimmering inside and out.

— Gwynn Popovac

Return for blog posts in the near future  — detailed descriptions of Gwynn’s mask-making methods, intermingled with her musings about many other things unexpected.

Pollinator

1997

Falling Water

2001

Daphne

1994

Quiet Water

2017

Thin Ice

1991

Patience

1999

Antelope Anima

1990

Terricon

1996

Insecta Sensorium

1993

Shadow

1992