Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Laura Henning, Student Work


While coming up with ideas for this project, I became deeply invested in the notion that a mask, by concealing, can paradoxically reveal certain parts of ourselves. In our desire to get to the "true" essence of a thing, we generally say "peel away the layers" when maybe we really should continue to coat, add, build up. Identity is, after all, formed by the tricky and ridiculously delicate process of deciding what to keep in and what to leave out, what to share and what to keep secret. 

I used this mask as a way to express parts of myself I usually keep hidden; in order to do so, however, I had to obscure my face and part of my body. This makes me wonder: Can we ever really know the whole thing, or everything only in fragment? Physically, the mask impedes one's ability to know my face, my expressions, the features that make me Laura. Nevertheless, it gives form to the interior structure of Laura, the parts that remain obscured by my body and its politics and complicity in facade. It's undeniable: in order to function somewhat normally in society, we have to uphold certain fronts or "un-truths." I do it all the time. We're told to "be yourself," but if that self is ugly and sad and deviant, how quickly the tune changes. Creating this mask gave me the chance to explore how to represent and make tangible those painful secrets that rest quietly inside my body and build throughout the day; how to express those feelings I often feel are inexpressible; and how to depict my struggles with depression and anxiety in such a way that perhaps others can relate. 

We all ache for connection, especially when our worlds seem very, very small. 

To see more of Laura's work and read her blog, link here.

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