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"Masks!" collection showcases local artists through November
N. SHUMATE, OUT OF THE BLUE     
A person might disguise their identity by hiding under a metaphorical mask. The
mask might change shape and size to accommodate expected roles in society. The
mask might become part of one’s identity, or it might be taken off to hold the
permanent reminder of one’s past.  

In conjunction with The Ohio Historical Society’s African-American exhibit
“Soul!,” the museum is now featuring “Masks!,” a collection of masks hand-
crafted by three Ohio artists.

“Masks! is about showcasing artists from the area and displaying their
interpretations, or real life influences with African culture,” said Rosa Rojas, the
exhibit’s community liaison.

Garner Chapman and Brian Featheringill, Columbus natives, and H. Alfreda
Abbott-Ayodele, a Toledo native, contributed their mask designs to the project.

Rojas said each mask reflects the artists personal cultural traditions and how they
identify with the changed roles of African-Americans throughout history.  

Each artist also has their own design method. “[Chapman] makes the paper and
uses textiles for her masks,” Rojas said.  

“Brian is an American-Indian and portrays his chronic back pain in his designs.  
Freda uses fond objects, like a Christmas cookie sheet and the back of a binder, to
make her masks.”

To celebrate the Masks! art display, a public mask-making workshop will be
conducted by Abbott-Ayodele on Nov. 21 between 1 and 4 p.m at the Ohio
Historical Society.  

A variety of supplied materials will be included to make the hand-held masquerade
masks, but participants can bring in personal items for there masks as well, Rojas
said. The workshop is included with regular parking and admission fees.

Masks! is one of six companion exhibits that have been displayed since “Soul!”
opened in May.  

Rojas coordinated previous community-created exhibitions focusing on topics
including jewelry, a Somalian feature and Latino artwork inspired by African roots.
Each of the extension exhibits is displayed for six weeks.

“In December we will have illustrations by Allan Rohan Crite called ‘Where You
There,’ and art quilts called ‘Quilts with Soul,’ Rojas said.

The main Soul! exhibit features themes throughout African-American history,
introduced in sections by written words of African-American poets and authors.  

Each section displays photographs, paintings, drawings and collages provided by
the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio.

“To really capture the entire essence of this exhibit with its historical value, visitors
should tour all of ‘Soul!,’ said Kim Schuette, Ohio Historical Center
Communications and Media Relations Manager.

The sections include depictions of warriors, protesters, abolitionists and the
historical marks of the Middle Passage and slavery.  Celebration pieces with dance
and music are also included.

Closing the “Soul!” exhibit are serigraphs by artist Jacob Lawrence.  Lawrence’s
colorful silk-screen prints tell the story of abolitionist John Brown.  Beside the 22
prints, display cases with artifacts associated with Brown are on display.

“We were excited to have these included with the exhibit,” said Schuette, “because
this marks the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry.”

On Dec. 3 the public is invited to a community discussion to speak with some of
the artists featured in the exhibit, Rojas said.  And on Feb. 20 the Ohio Historical
Society will feature a closing ceremony to honor “Soul!,” called “HeART of Soul.”

Masks! will be on display until Nov. 29 and Soul! will continue to be featured, along
with monthly community art exhibits, until Feb. 28.  

The Ohio Historical Society is open Thursdays 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays and
Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.  

Regular vehicle parking is $4 and admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 for
youth (6-12) and free for children under 5.  

For special group discounts and tours of “Soul!,” contact Lesley Cornathan
at 614-297-2477.  
  (photos provided by Kim Schuette)
This article posted on www.thelantern.com on 11.10.09 in "Arts"  CLICK !
This article printed in The Lantern's "btw"
weekly arts' insert on 11.12.09  CLICK ! -->
Three masks by Garner Chapman of Columbus.
"Protector" by Freda Abbot-Ayodele of Toledo.
"Facial Armor" by Brian Featheringill of Columbus.