Prior to 2020, masks were typically thought of for stage or screen, or Halloween. But in the midst of a global pandemic, mask-wearing became ubiquitous with daily life, in our collective efforts to keep one another safe and healthy.
In exploration of this the feelings it invoked by that experience—and to bring our Art Park family closer together during this challenging time—Art Park Education Director Patricia Innis conceived the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” art project with our volunteers, board members, artists, and staff.
The project asked participants to reflect and then decorate a paper-mache mask to express their personal story during the current health crisis.
Quickly, the project grew across the region, with partner arts and culture organizations joining with the Art Park to collect and exhibit masks designed by individuals of all ages across Michigan and beyond. Hundreds of students in the midst of “virtual school,” along with parents, grandparents and community groups contributed masks for exhibits at the Old Art Building (Leland), Crooked Tree Arts Center (Traverse City), and the historic Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts (Manistee).
In these masks, there are unique and shared experiences. During a time filled with isolation, Art has a way of bringing people together. Participants described the experience as creative, reflective, and as an innovative tool to discuss the ongoing health crisis with others.
The successful impact of this project started a new annual initiative to create similar community projects each year.
Special thanks to Innis, Patty Pelizzari and Deona Paine for their support in making this project happen. Highlights from the project will be displayed at the Art Park’s Discovery Grove and a future exhibit in collaboration with the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts in Manistee.