Perusing the Facemask exhibit at Zhou B. Art Center

When I visited the opening of Shawna Moore and Friends, Zhou B. Art Center also held the opening of Facemask: Exploring the “other” behind our social media face. Per the exhibit’s Facebook page:

“Facemask is not an exhibition about Facebook /Twitter or other social media. Rather, it is a self-portrait exhibition that evolves in the middle of a “social media” revolution. Facemask explores the hidden personality behind our social media face. Such personality here described as our ‘other’.“

The entire first floor was dedicated to this exhibit, with portraits ranging from paintings, prints and collages to electronic media, mixed media and sculptural works.

It redefined my concept of portraiture, with people incorporating a variety of elements to represent themselves. From traditional realistic portraits, to more abstract cheerful color combinations, to the more morbid colors and mixed-media pieces, each artist presented a reality beyond the 140-character updates we post on social media.

One laptop had a film of facial expressions as people screamed and laughed at themselves. Shovels represented another person’s masks. Some paintings incorporated a setting and relationships to other people into the theme.

One of my favorites was “Grace III” by  Corinna Button.

I also admired the wire sculpture “Searching for Gold” by Christine S. Forni.

As I walked around, the range of emotions weren’t always pleasant, but I think that is exactly the point as we compare the number of ‘friends’ and followers and the types of comments made on social media pages. For the most part, we present ourselves in the best light both online and in face-to-face conversations. In our true lives, however, we do face more than smiles and sunshine.

It’s an interesting idea to explore how one would represent oneself in self-portrait form. I’ll have to think about what would encapsulate myself visually, and whether I could represent that in 2D or 3D. It is something to ponder for a future art project.

The Facemask exhibit, Zhou B.’s 8th Annual National Self Portrait Exhibition, runs through August 11, and gallery hours are here. The Zhou B. Art Center opens from 7 to 10 pm every third Friday of the month to host exhibit openings and allow the public to peruse artist studios.

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