Need a Mask, Take a Mask art piece installed

| November 19, 2020

“Need a Mask, Take a Mask” is on display on the second floor of the 311 Medical Building. (Submitted)

Back in June, the Pomerene Center for the Arts and Coshocton Regional Medical Center began talking about a collaborative arts-and-health project with the goal of impacting health and safety outcomes through the pandemic.

Conversations led to ideas from socially-distanced concerts in the artPARK to a marionette puppet family art project bearing a hand-washing message. Enter a more feasible opportunity in early July to hold a series of distanced, art making workshops with residents at GentleBrook Lafayette Meadows.

Considering the particular restrictions and dangers of institutional/communal life during COVID, plus understanding how especially reliant GentleBrook residents are on the outside world to keep them safe, Artist Anne Cornell began the workshop by asking the residents to pose in a way that expressed their feelings about staying safe.

“It was a really good thing for them to let them talk about their feelings,” said Elizabeth Dillehay, habilitation specialist at GentleBrook. “Anne was really good at working with them on how they feel, how hard this all is, and what they think about it. It was a good thing for them to participate in and something they could do to help the community.”

Photographs of the posed residents taken by Dillehay were used as reference by the resident artists for drawn self-portraits.

“This was a great partnership with Anne,” Dillehay said. “She really drew some people out of their shells and found that some of them had hidden talents.”

Cornell took the photographic and drawn portraits into the Pomerene Studio and began creating sculptures—gentle figures designed to stand at entrance ways and offer a mask to anyone needing one.

Meanwhile, the GentleBrook artists switched to drawing leaves, enlarged versions of which they used to design two panels of window cling donated by the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum. The resulting leafy green “wallpaper” became the backdrop for the community art installation “Need a Mask, Take a Mask.”

The masks being gifted hang from each sculpture in individual bags and include a personal message written by each giver: Lisa Charnock, Michael Dunn and Destanie Rose. Destanie’s message is particularly powerful, “I don’t want you to get sick or die. I am still alive.”

The overarching feeling is one of sweetness and kindness and care. “All things we so desperately need as we confront this epidemic,” Cornell said.

Kaylee Andrews, manager of business development and marketing at the hospital, said they are excited to be the first location to display this piece with such a powerful and important message.

“We are happy to support the Pomerene Center for the Arts and the artists at GentleBrook Lafayette Meadows,” she said. “They did a great job, and we look forward to seeing the display in other locations in the community.”

“Need a Mask, Take a Mask” is on display on the second floor of the 311 Medical Building now through Monday, Nov. 30. To date, 21 masks have been given away.

Any interested business wishing to make it easy and pleasant for unmasked patrons to mask up is invited to schedule a display of “Need a Mask, Take a Mask”  by calling 740-622-0326 or emailing [email protected]. Though currently displayed indoors, the art piece is weatherproof. The Pomerene is asking for a donation for the installation in support of future community art projects.

A special thanks to Wal-Mart for the donation of the masks being given away.

Those who helped with the project included: Cornell, Dillehay, and GentleBrook Resident Artists Charnock, Dunn, Rose, Brooklyn Kendall, Zach Hasseman, June Stowers, Mark Rexrode, Rusty Bagley, Jerry Sutton, Amy Humphrey, Mary Beth Abel, Susan McCandless, Carol McAtee, Mark Morris, Tom Moyer and Shirley Snell.

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Category: Arts & Entertainment

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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