Art Making Through Mask Making

Charity is a preschool teacher who is completing her third year of a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. Annais is completing her sophomore year in high school from home and is interested in becoming a costume designer. They’ve completed over 150 masks that they have shipped across the country.

In their experience:

Physical distancing does not require emotional distance, find ways to connect with your community

The art we make is going to impact the way history sees this time, and can be reflective of the challenges we faced; don’t worry about perfection

Why did you start sewing masks?

Charity: My sister is an ICU nurse and when I read that they were in need of masks and other PPE, I started making surgical caps and masks for her. And then realized my family and closest friends, and their friends were also in need and realized we could make a community impact. We ended up digging out our sewing machines and setting up a station on our dining room table. We each take turns making masks throughout the day. With this last batch we’ve made 150 masks.

Anais: For me, in a way, the mask making has filled a part of the absence of theater. At Marshall (Fundamental Secondary School) there’s an incredible drama program that provides a lot engagement. My mom did costumes for 4 or 5 shows and I completely fell in love with it, I really like being able to make things with my hands that can be used. I like the idea that I can design something and bring it to life.

Now, I get to talk to my community and give masks. I think it challenges the way that I have been engaging with my community using my artistic skills.

How have Safe at Home Orders impacted your art?

Annais: I’m not able to get as much theater into my life as I would like, but I’ve been trying to sketch and read about the costume design processes.

It’s really amazing what’s happening online, it’s a great way to see shows that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible to me because of cost. You can go on the internet and see what’s available, and scope out the different supplies you already have. In terms of committing to making something, you really need to want to do it. I think if you’re half wanting to do it it’s really difficult to commit to it.

Charity: When we think about how our ancestors lived through the Spanish Flu or the Depression and think about what they created, there’s no need to be afraid of doing it wrong or worrying what the back looks like. Even if that means using a stapler and glue and cutting up a pair of jeans to make something expressing your experience of this time. The art we make is going to impact the way history sees this time, and can be reflective of the challenges we faced.

This time has the potential to be very traumatic for a lot of children. Looking at the things that make kids more resilient instead of succumbing to the negative effects is an important lens. Attachments sustain us as adults and are critical for creating healthy kids. The masks are a way to stay connected to people, so we’ve sent them all over the country. Being able to connect and maintain those relationships even through this is really important for me personally.