Friday, February 25, 2011

What's Your Face Like Today?

In my last post, I wrote about Diana, Princess of Wales, and the exhibit of her gowns and mementos.

Through much of her royal career, Diana wore a mask -- the mask of happiness when she was profoundly sad; the mask of confidence when her world was shaken. Behind that beautiful face and seemingly self-assured presence was a young woman whose world was falling apart. But her mask was simply lovely.

I went to the most wonderful exhibit at the MSU Museum recently -- and I know I'll go back many times more to take in more detail. (It continues for the next year.)

The exhibit is of masks. They represent a number of cultures -- from pop culture...

... to ancient tribal masks from Africa and other countries.

They are monochromatic or colorful ...

... smooth and textured...

...frightening and whimsical.

Masks are used to conceal, to hide; to play with or protect.

The gas mask, for example, has been a staple of war for more than a century.

And really, don't we all wear masks now and then?

Good morning," we say when it's anything but, and we really don't care if the one to whom we say it has a good morning or not. (Perhaps the snipe in us hopes it isn't so good, in all truth.)

You've seen masks -- if you're a parent of a hockey or football player, you're darned glad these are protecting your athletes.

A friend and I were talking recently about the American funeral -- perhaps it is our best coping mechanism when deep in grief that we can smile at someone as graciously as welcoming them at a cocktail party and say, "It's so nice to see you; thank you for coming."

The tears will fall an hour or two later. It is the mask we show.

Whether one looks at masks as being works of art (they are), sociological tools for coping and hiding (they are) or anthropological pieces that help explain a culture (they are that, too), the fact is, we may all be more familiar with masks than we think.

They can transport us to evocative new worlds...

...or shelter us, emotionally, hiding disfigurement, whether physical or emotional.

Do you know what is behind the mask of those closest to you? Are they happy or sad? Really?

What mask are you wearing today?

(The comedy and tragedy masks above fit in nicely with the newest entry at Chopsticks and String -- a wonderful murder mystery by Nicola Upson, in which one of the lead characters is a fictionalized version of mystery writer Josephine Tey!)


anno said...

Looks like a great exhibit, Jeanie ... it's always amazing to me to see how people change when they put on a mask. Today, I am the patient, nurturing mother, carefully masking my excitement at getting out of the house alone tomorrow!

Vagabonde said...

Wonderful post. I loved the masks I saw in British Columbia at the museum in Vancouver and also in Victoria – they are so colorful. I rarely wear a mask – I tell it like it is and sometimes am not diplomatic enough. You have a very nice assortment of masks there. How about the masks from New Orleans? Some of them during the carnival came be beautiful or outrageous.

Jeanie said...

I think that as I have gotten older I have shed many of the masks I used to wear, at least I hope so.
Very thoughtful post and your pictures from the exhibit are wonderful.

Privet and Holly said...

Wow ~ super cool,
but also kind of
xx Suzanne

Joanne Huffman said...

Wonderful photos of some really great masks. I actually think masks can be, and often are, very useful - especially in social situations. I like that the mask remains after the person is long gone.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

What a great/thoughtful post. There are definitely times when I wear a mask and pretend that everything is ok. I even do this around my parents, which I kind of feel bad about, but since they live hours apart, I do not like them to worry about me, so when things are happening in my life that have me stressed, I put on a mask and pretend everything is ok. And maybe my mom knows that already and sees through it? I'm not sure...

Right now I am putting on the mask of, "I am so happy to be back from Paris." In reality? Not so much!

Linda Jo said...

Great masks! Great pictures. I hope to wear a mud mask later today.... (sorry....I have to be silly)

Barb said...

Hi Jeanie, I think we all wear masks to protect ourselves. I'm a private person (why the heck am I blogging?), so perhaps I conceal my "real" self and only take the mask off when I feel safe. BTW, the masks you photographed are spectacular. I've gone through your photos several times. I love that colorful "realistic" one with the green eyes!

Marilyn Miller said...

I looked at this earlier, but didn't leave a comment. What a very fascinating exhibit. I liked your parallel of the masks Princess Diana had to wear and also what we sometimes wear. Good thoughts.

Karen Owen said...

What a thought provoking post! As a former minister's wife, I am all too familiar with mask wearing.

Sandy said...

I often wear a mask when working. Not because I am necessarily insincere but to be pleasant ALL THE TIME. Which isn't easy! Interesting post.

Christine said...

beautiful masks!

Anya said...

Such a wonderful post !!!!
Very cool masks :-)

Hugs and cuddle

Kareltje =^.^= Betsie >^.^<

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´Anya

Bella Rum said...

We all wear masks at some time or other, don't we? Wonderful post. I enjoy thinking of you snapping these photos for us. So nice.

Oh said...

Good morning, Jeanie! stopping in to say "hi" and will be back later. Up early to get some work done, but couldn't resist a peak here to see what you're up to!
more later --

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