Vancouver photographer turns masks into works of art

Along with COVID-19 mask mandates, there has been mask waste.

Michelle Leone Huisman, photographer and mother from Vancouver, was somewhat inspired by it. She has created a series of artworks focusing on both issues.

“As subsequent waves have lingered, I have begun to think more critically about two pandemics – the first and most acute is COVID-19 and the second, and more insidious, is the waste we produce in response,” she wrote in a statement. about his next show Global pandemic. “What are the lasting impacts of our choices today?”

The show will feature a series of photos created using Huisman masks found on the streets of Vancouver. At the start of 2021, she was inspired to take an artistic look at twin issues, contrasting masks with signs of spring and rejuvenation. Initially, she felt overwhelmed by the amount of pandemic-related trash she saw, and her art reflects that, but then she met David Papineau.

“This chance connection coincided with the discovery of more children’s masks on the streets,” she wrote in the statement. “With Ring-Around-The-Rosie bouncing around in my head, I was inspired to bring together the darker topics of the pandemic and pollution with proverbially playful nursery rhymes and children’s games.”

Many coins in the series have friendly names, like Make a wish Where Light as a feather, while addressing the darker issues that masks represent.

“As we can all attest, play is the universal language of childhood. It is where we learn to cope, to give and receive, and to share the joys and challenges of human interaction,” she writes. “During the 2020/21 school year, my daughter started playing a game called ‘infection’ at school. Infection is similar to the label except once
infected, you’re on the same team and, as you’d expect, the last uninfected person wins.”

Huisman’s method is not simple. She uses a 19th century technique called tricolor gum bichromate on palladium, a handmade chemical process.

“This meticulous artistic process guarantees the uniqueness of each work and the timeless quality of the print preserves the integrity of the fine art photographs on
time,” notes Huisman.

Global pandemic will be at the Dal Schindell Gallery at Regent College, UBC from March 2 to April 10, although a digital version of the exhibition can be viewed at Huisman’s website.

Dora W. Clawson