Art Spirit Masks by Ann Light

Critics have described Ann’s masks as solemn, sly and wildy inventive…
strikingly primitive and original….strong and contemporary

Ann LightArt has always provided me with an escape, a space to where I can retreat. Although the process requires intense concentration it is relaxing and therapeutic and transports me to another dimension, refreshing parts of the soul other activities can't reach.

I've dabbled in other mediums: paper arts, printmaking, and acrylics, but the first hardshell gourd I touched stopped me cold. And now gourds have become the focus of my work. I've learned much about their history, which can fascinate, but it isn't history or tradition that involves me. It is their form, coloration, shape, texture, as well as their imperfections that become an integral part of the finished piece. I marvel at how nature can create something so beautiful and ugly at the same time. Each gourd guides me as the mask slowly begins to take on a personality and life of its own. Some cry for simplicity; others demand elaborate embellishment.

Carefully coaxing faces from the hard, dry surface requires careful and gentle strokes of the woodburner and engraving tool. The masks are leather-dyed, waxed and polished, sewn with artificial sinew and embellished with natural materials such as dried pods, raffia, bamboo, palm inflorescence, seagrass, pine needles, and philodendron sheaths.

I become connected to my work and, to me, each mask is as beautiful as a child is to its mother. They are my passion, my expression.

My masks, while primarily intuitive, are certainly influenced by my background. I was born and raised in New Orleans, a place where natives are comfortable wearing masks, from Mardi Gras masks to serious voodoo face coverings. New Orleans was a mystical place to be formed, a city that refuses the entreaties of the rest of the world to eat less, get to work, stop dancing and wear clothing appropriate to your gender or age. And the masks reflect this free spirit.