In 2018 I attended a residency at the Vermont Studio Centre. Here I made a series of small 2D persona portraits that I turned into masks. These paintings emerged from a process akin to surrealist automatism during which I surrendered conscious control. They were spontaneous self expressions in acrylic ink on paper that were not predetermined but depicted of my inner emotions. The paintings were then scanned and printed at a scale appropriate to the mask form and then, using paper-mache, I pasted the printed painting onto a structural cardboard form. The two-dimensional portraits developed a new life in 3D space. To fully activate the masks, I embodied them as characters in front of the camera. I created a series of photographs in which each character could breathe, experience movement, and even speak. Upon continuing this portrait series, I learned how a painting might exist as a living entity. This has changed how I relate to 2D modes of working. The mask has also allowed me to connect with my body and my feelings. Because the anonymity of the mask has given me a method for exploring previously concealed aspects of myself, I wonder: can I assist others in embodying the unseen aspects of themselves?
*All photographs are taken by Kaelen Ohm