Integrative Studio – Avatar: Duality – “Half of a Mother” Mask


As a child, my mother suffered from a stroke that impacted the left side of her brain, causing her to become paralyzed on the right side of her body and to become verbally impaired. At the young age of four, I was simply told that everything was fine when in reality, it was far from it. Memories of earlier days when this incident initially occurred consist of fragmented pieces of sitting in cold hospital waiting room chairs, the chatter of doctors and a giant pet therapy dog who I considered my best friend. Among this collection of memories was the day my mother was finally well enough to be discharged from the hospital. After daily visits back and forth from the hospital for a month, I was relieved when I heard that all of this would soon be over. I was hopeful for life to resume like how it previously was before, but as I gazed upon my mother that day, I knew it would never be the same again. Like a deer in headlights, she remained quiet and seemingly confused as to who those were around her. At that moment, my heart sank and I knew that the quiet, frail, disabled woman in the wheel chair in front of me was not my mother and that a part of her essence had been destroyed.

This mask plays with the idea of duality, highlighting the quality of being disabled versus abled. The mask is divided in half as a representation of my “half of a mother”. The butterfly textures on the right are purposely placed incorrectly on what would be considered my mother’s “disabled” portion of her body. The butterflies are used symbolize the hope that my mother’s disability would not impact my family, but is soon destroyed and is represented by the fade into complete “nothingness” on the left side of the mask. The theme of duality is continually expressed through characteristics such as textures versus flatness and solid structures versus fluid lines.

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