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I got a huge kick out of these masks when I came across them the other day. Originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, where there are many old mill buildings left over from the 1800s, artist Rob Millard-Mendez was fascinated by late-nineteenth century mechanical technology. His art consists mostly of interactive kinetic objects with a combination of mythological, scientific, and historical references as well as an American Folk Art feel. There is a dark humor to his work, blurring the line between the tragic and the laughable.
From the artist’s website:
…The toy-like quality of the pieces is set in ironic counterbalance with a certain amount of dark whimsy. The interactivity ties in with the idea of power. The things we do (and do not do) affect the world, often more deeply than we know. In these works I am trying to make the viewer think about who has the power to influence whom and in what ways...
From top to bottom: Tends to Lash Out (Wood, steel, measuring sticks, reclaimed ivory): Unfertility Mask and detail (Wood, paint, steel, condoms); Unable to See Over the Hegemony (Wood, steel, measuring sticks, reclaimed ivory); Alchemist Mask (Wood, steel, lead, gold leaf); Critical Mas(k); detail of Critical Mas(k) (Wood, measuring sticks); Phaeton Mask; Detail of Phaeton Mask (Wood, steel, tile, oven mitts, matches). All images courtesy of the artist.
Rob Millard-Mendez currently resides in Evansville, Indiana, and teaches at the University of Southern Indiana. You can see the rest of his equally whimsical work on his site.