Friday, March 12, 2010


One favorite collection of mine are Venetian masks. I always wondered why I was so strongly drawn to them, if it was from a past life experience or because I somehow always felt that I should wear some sort of a mask to be the acceptable, perfect wife, mother, daughter or whatever role I was playing at the time.

I have recently been studying German Expressionism and was struck by the portrayal of Street by Kirchner. His use of color portrayed a kind of mask on the women's faces and while art historians feel that Kirchner was making his subjects threatening with his use of color on their faces, I feel Kirchner was acknowledging the masks that women must wear in order to fit into society.

We Wear the Mask
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

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