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Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 - 8:28 a.m.

So there was a transcript of an art show artist who… appropriates other people’s and other culture’s work in what seems to be a totally unreflecting way, and has some degree of success based on that. It was very upsetting to me.

He started out by seeing a mask in a gallery (perhaps the gallery my work is now in) and thinking “I can make that.”.

Anyway, I did make a mask. And I have a lot of ideas for more. But I’m here now paralyzed by: am I copying like I made fun of him for doing, by doing a mask because he reactivated my desire to make masks? Am I copying the artist whose mask I bought a couple years ago? The shape of the masks I’m doing, is it too reminiscent of African masks such that someone is going to accuse me of appropriation? Would they be right?

If I defend myself by saying, I work in paper in this way, this is how paper moves and bends and folds. This is the size and shape of a face. I’m not copying. If I say, every culture has come up with this idea for one purpose or another. I’m not making any claims about religious significance here. If I say, I have a connection to masks because personally, I feel so safe in my own body when I’m wearing one, my face unseen. The metaphor for the camouflage the autistic puts up to get by, to become acceptable. That’s all there. Is all that just excuses and fragility?

If I show you my ideas… text… cyanotypes of faces atop masks… a big smile… objects… prints… all my media, on a mask. Would it still be stealing. Am I stealing? Do I even have an original thought in my head? How many things from the cloth masks we’ve all been wearing am I stealing too?

And of course let’s not forget… if I go looking for images African masks to make sure I’m not copying them, or art masks to make sure no one’s doing this and I’m not copying someone whose work I’ve never seen… I’m exposed to so many masterful, truly creative works of art that I feel like my own is sad and shoddy in comparison and can only be that way. There’s no point.

Leave it, I should leave it. I can’t do anything. It would be bad anyway.

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