Masked Heroes: Facial Coverings by Native Artists

9
Georgina Medina

The Medina family modeling their handmade masks. Image courtesy of Georgina Medina (Tulalip Tribes).

In response to the rapid shuttering of art galleries and museums to help slow the spread of COVID-19, First American Art Magazine launched a call for this virtual art exhibition. The Native art community has responded to this crisis with compassion, generosity, bravery, and hope. Through Masked Heroes, we want to celebrate the resilience of Indigenous peoples and help share the beauty that Native artists have created in the face of our shared crisis.

Seventy-three artists responded to our call for entries with 125 masks. Due to the unexpected numbers of entries, they are divided by subject matters into the themes of Abstraction, Four-Leggeds, From the Water, Plant World, Two-Leggeds, and Winged Beings.

While the masks in this exhibition need not be functional, many of them are. Many artists have gifted masks to healthcare works on the frontlines of this crisis.

Nasuk Ahyakak

Masks made by Nasuk Ahyakak (Native Village of Barrow, Iñupiaq).

FAAM introduced awards to this exhibition as a motivation to enter. We are pleased to announce that Howard La Fortune (Tsawout First Nation) won Best of Show with his Bear Snout, a carved cedar mask. Twenty-six editors, writers, advisors, and regional representatives of FAAM judged the entries. Author Stacy Pratt, PhD (Mvskoke), wrote, “Judging that was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life!” The vast number of excellent masks with such a broad range of styles and techniques made judging a challenge, and all of the artworks deserve recognition.

The magazine was founded with the goal of introducing the public to the widest possible range of Native artists, and we are delighted to showcase artists from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Artists provided their websites and social media links. If you want to contact any artists without links, you can email us and we will forward your email on to the artist. That way we can facilitate communication without compromising an artist’s privacy.

Facial masks will be part of our daily lives in the future. They help protect others. We hope this exhibition helps us embrace these protections. FAAM would like to thank every artist that shared their creations with us and every other mask maker who is helping the world become a safer place for all of us.

Exhibition Themes

Click on thumbnail to see the masks from a particular theme.

Abstraction

Abstraction

Four Leggeds

Four Leggeds

From the Water

From the Water

Plant World

Plant World

Two Leggeds

Two Leggeds

Winged Beings

Winged Beings

Artists by Name

Click on the title of artwork to see the image.

    1. Pilar Agoyo (Ohkay Owingeh/Cochiti/Kewa Pueblos), Pinterest @starpilar, Twitter @agoyo
      1. Bread Is Life
      2. Protection, Judge’s Choice: Kelly Church
    2. Nasuk Ahyakak (Native Village of Barrow, Iñupiaq), FB profile: Nasuk Akyakak
      1. Mask: Blueberries
      2. Mask: Polar Bears
      3. Mask: Cowboys
    3. Marcus Amerman (Choctaw Nation) and Carolyn Amerman (Nez Perce),  IG @carolynamerman | marcusamerman.com
      1. The Ocean’s Daughter
      2. The Oscar Goes To
    4. Robbie Atabaigi (Absentee Shawnee)
      1. COVID-19 Mask—USA, Judge’s Choice: Michole Eldred, Jo Ann Reece
    5. Jeanne Banning (Fort William First Nation, Ojibway)
      1. MMIW Honor Face Mask: Fontaine
      2. MMIW Honor Face Mask: Sainnawap
      3. MMIW Honor Face Mask: Keeash
    6. Aaron Begay (Laguna Pueblo/Navajo), IG @shaawiit
      1. Protection Ceremony
    7. Casey Bigpond (Mississippi Choctaw/Creek)
      1. Choctaw Mask
    8. Nan Blassingame (Southern Cheyenne), FB @Nativeamericannotions
      1. Floral Hat with Matching Mask
    9. Nancy Brown-Garcia (Narragansett), IG @nancybrowngarcia
      1. Wampumpeag Warrior Weapon
      2. Quahaug Protection
      3. Wolf Mask
    10. Tranette Calladitto (Navajo), FB @tmcnavajoartist, IG @tcalladitto_nativeartist
      1. Be the Hunter, Not the Hunted
      2. Native Strong
    11. Carolyn Calvin (Navajo)
      1. SPAM 4ever
    12. Renee Cleveland (Navajo), FB Profile: R.K. Cleveland
      1. Navajo Conchos
      2. Prayers for Life (Warrior Prayers) 
      3. Hopi Prayer
      4. Water Is Life
    13. Nicolette Corbett (Orutsararmiut Native Council, Yup’ik), sewyupik.com, IG @sewyupik, FB @sewyupik
      1. Masks for Heroes
      2. Yakutat Masks
    14. Cathy Cordry (Rosebud Sioux Tribe), cathycordry.square.site, FB profile: Cathylee Cordry
      1. Old Medicine
      2. Banana Split
    15. Juli Cote (Osage), FB profile: Juli Cote 
      1. Because I Can
    16. Michael Danner (Native Hawaiian) and Gigi Danner (Chickasaw)
      1. Rockin Rez Mask
    17. Dawn Dark Mountain (Oneida Nation), dawndarkmountain.com, FB @DarkMountainWatercolorsLLC
      1. Unique Batik
      2. Lose Is a Rose
      3. Space Oddity 
      4. Morris Mask
    18. Catherine Esquivel (Diné), FB profile: Catherine Esquivel
      1. Masks made in a hurry and of desperation
      2. New and Improved Design
    19. Tom Farris (Otoe-Missouria/Cherokee), FB @TheArtofTomFarris
      1. Irony
    20. Anita Fields (Osage/Muscogee), IG @nativefields
      1. All My Heroes Wear Ribbon Work, Judge’s Choice: Staci Golar, Jami Powell
    21. Kenneth Glass (Cherokee Nation), FB @kgdesigns918, IG @kendoll49
      1. Ꮭ ᎪᎯᎢᎦ Corona, Ꮭ ᎪᎯᎢᎦ
    22. Dolores Gull (Weenusk First Nation, Cree) and Faith Chookomolin (Weenusk First Nation, Cree), FB Profile: CREE STYLE BY De LORES
      1. I See You, Judge’s Choice: America Meredith
    23. Valarie Harris (Hopi/Tohono O’odham), FB profile: Val Harris, IG @val.j.harris
      1. Buffalo Dress
      2. Hopi Spring
    24. Sue Herne (Akwesasne Mohawk)
      1. Clear Skies
    25. Carrie Hill (Akwesasne Mohawk), chill-baskets.com, FB @chillbaskets, IG @chillbaskets
      1. #COVIDCreation, Judge’s Choice: Linda Lomahaftewa
    26. Luzene Hill (Eastern Band Cherokee) and Samantha Page McDaniel (Eastern Band Cherokee), allgoodandasbill.com, IG @samanthaspage, Etsy: AllgoodandAsbill | luzenehill.com, FB @LuzeneHillArt
      1. Untitled
    27. Loretta Hoagland (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth) and  Destani Hoagland (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth), IG @ojibwe_beaders
      1. Our Mask with Four Direction Colors
      2. Eagle Mask
    28. Lily Hope (Tlingit), lilyhope.com, IG @lilyhopeweaver, #lilyhopecouture
      1. Chilkat Protector, Judge’s Choice: Jean Merz-Edwards, Christopher Smith, Matthew Ryan Smith
    29. Madeline Jenkins [Muscogee (Creek) Nation], IG @hotvle.craft
      1. Cenke Okkosvs (Wash Your Hands)
    30. Yvonne Jolley (Yurok)
      1. Yurok Friendship Design, Judge’s Choice: Michelle J. Lanteri
      2. Yurok Frog Hand
    31. Heather Jordan (NANA, Iñupiaq)
      1. Purple Warrior
      2. Untitled
    32. Catherine Kasler (Cherokee Nation)
      1. Native Prairie
    33. Nickole Keith (Nottawaseppi Huron Band Potawatomi) and Johnathon Moulds, (Nottawaseppi Huron Band Potawatomi), Photographer, FB @NKSTAMPED, IG @NKStamped
      1. De’h – Heart (Potawatomi)
    34. Howard La Fortune (Tsawout First Nation), FB profile: Howard La Fortune, Twitter
      @howardthduck64, IG @thduck64

      1. Bear Snout, Best of Show
    35. Denise Lajimodiere (Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe), FB @birchbarkbiting
      1. “His” Blue Bird Flour Sack Mask 
      2. “Her” Blue Bird Flour Sack Mask 
    36. Heather Levi (Kiowa/Cheyenne/Arapaho) and George Curtis Levi (Cheyenne/Arapaho/Lakota), FB profile: Heather Levi | FB @georgecurtislevi, IG @georgecurtislevi
      1. Black Horse Ledger Mask
      2. Red Buffalo Run Mask
      3. Blue Buffalo Run Mask
    37. Sheena Logan (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma), FB profile: Chickee Chic
      1. Lightning Patchwork
      2. Happy Path
    38. Shayai Lucero (Acoma/Laguna), earthskyfloral.com, FB @EarthSkyFloral, IG @EarthSkyFloral
      1. Breath of Life, Judge’s Choice: Samonia Byford
    39. LeAndra Madalena (Navajo), IG @mrsmontypython
      1. Heroes Just for One Day
      2. Heroes Just for One Day (series)
    40. Brenda L. Mahan (Koyukon Athabascan), FB profile: Brenda Mahan (Brenda LaPlante), IG @flwrquilt
      1. Attitude
      2. Spring
    41. Leith Mahkewa (Oneida Nation of the Thames), FB @leithbeadwork, IG @leithmahkewa
      1. I Am Protecting You from Me, Second Place, Judge’s Choice: Stephanie Pratt, Jackie Sevier
    42. Lea McCormick (Mvskoke Nation), FB @WovenDesignsbyLea
      1. Weaver’s Mask
    43. Georgina Medina (Tulalip Tribes), FB profile: Georgina Medina 
      1. Tribal Affiliation
      2. Sacred Voices
      3. Tribal Views
      4. Native Ways 
    44. Bill Mendoza (Oglala Lakota/Sicangu Lakota), quillbillcreations.com, FB @QuillBillCreations, IG @quillbillcreations
      1. Dentalium and Quilled Mask, Third Place, Judge’s Choice: Heather Cox
    45. Linda Lou Metoxen (Navajo).  Note: Metoxen has sold her masks, is out of material, and will not be making more in the near future.
      1. Saving Lives While Saving the Planet, Judge’s Choice: Emily Haozous
      2. Still Remembering Our Sisters
    46. Katrina Mitten (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma), katrinamitten.com, FB Katrina Mitten – Beadwork Artist
      1. You May Not Kiss The Bride, Judge’s Choice: heather ahtone
      2. MMIW
      3. Thoughts of Summer
    47. Sage Mountainflower (Ohkay Owingeh), sagemountainflower.com, FB profile: Sage PinPovi, IG @pinpovi
      1. Hide Them Fancy High Cheekbones
    48. Allyssa Nashookpuk (Huslia Tribe, Athabascan)
      1. Athabascan Face Masks
    49. Cecili O’Sullivan (Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak)
      1. Full Heart On
    50. Samantha Page McDaniel (Eastern Band Cherokee), allgoodandasbill.com, IG @samanthaspage, Etsy: AllgoodandAsbill
      1. Quarantime
      2. Mean Business
      3. Safe to Fly
      4. To The Point
    51. Jobena Petonoquot (Kitigan Zibi Algonquin), IG @jobena_petonoquot
      1. The Healer
    52. Jennifer Pictou (Aroostook Band of Micmacs), IG @raepictou
      1. Mi’kmaq Basket Mask
    53. Osceola Red Shirt (Oglala Lakota), twogunsleather.com, FB @twogunsleather, IG @twogunsleather
      1. Floral Shield 
    54. Michelle Reed (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe), FB MReed Designs Purse Co., IG @mreeddesigns
      1. Comfort Our Children 
      2. Supaman Appliqué Mask to Match Regalia
    55. Addie Roanhorse (Osage), addieroanhorse.com, IG @addie_roanhorse
      1. New World
    56. Tiya Rosario (Kiowa), FB profile: Tajabling Tajabling, email
      1. Covid Cover Bling Things
      2. Shiny Silver Delight
      3. Shimmery Pink 
    57. Margaret Riley Santhanam (Choctaw/Chickasaw), IG @margmom5
      1. Laris
      2. Sukie
    58. Melinda Schwakhofer (Mvskoke), inspiraculum.co.uk
      1. Este Mvskokvlket Owis
    59. Stefanie Sikorowski (Oneida/Chickasaw)
      1. Good Medicine
    60. Vicki Soboleff (Tlingit, Haida), FB @soboleff.selections, IG @vicki.soboleff, Twitter @VickiSHaida
      1. Just Ovoid It
    61. Vera Starbard (Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska/Native Village of Tyonek, Tlingit/Dena’ina) and Don Starbard (Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska, Tlingit), FB @eekhit | verastarbard.com
      1. Young Devilfish Warrior
      2. Eagle Catches Devilfish
      3. Devilfish Under the Moon
      4. Devilfish On the Red Carpet
    62. Elizabeth Stephens (Caddo Nation of Oklahoma), FB @thunderhorsecreations
      1. Horse Girl
    63. Stephanie Tenasco (Kitigan Zibi Anishinabe), IG @stephanie_tenasco
      1. Mashkawizìwin (Strength) 
    64. Marlana Thompson (Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne), FB @OCbyMTB, IG @marlanathompsonbaker
      1. Ononkwashon:a / Medicinal Plants, Judge’s Choice: Stacy Pratt
    65. Dana Tiger (Muscogee) and Rhina Bell (Seminole), tigerartgallery.com
      1. Little Tradition Keepers
    66. Michelle Tsosie Sisneros (Santa Clara Pueblo), basketinthemiststudio.com, FB profile: Michelle Tsosie Sisneros, IG @michelletsosiesisneros
      1. Dragon Fly Dreams 
      2. Strength
    67. Diane R. Walter (Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes)
      1. My Love of Alaska series, Abstraction
      2. My Love of Alaska series, From the Water
      3. My Love of Alaska series, Plant World
    68. Tonya S. Wapskineh (Cherokee Nation/Muscogee/Seminole/Prairie Band Potawatomi), IG @tanae_wapskineh
      1. Protecting Etsi (My Mom)
      2. Gatiyo (Stomp Ground) Ready
    69. Serene Weasel Traveller (Piikani Nation), FB profile: Serene Weasel Traveller, IG @sereneweaseltraveller
      1. Face Mask Quilt, Judge’s Choice: Candice Byrd
    70. Tlehpik Hjalmer Wenstob (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations), cedarhousegallery.com; FB @firstnationsart, IG @cedarhousegallery, great article in the Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News
      1. The Survivor (Gas “Mask”)
    71. Rosanne Wilson (Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove, Unangax̂), IG @rosiepq05
      1. Nautical
      2. Keep Our Town Safe 
      3. Anchors Away – Fishing Season Is Upon Us
    72. Crystal Worl (Tlingit/Athabascan/Yupik), crystalworl.com, IG @crystalworl
      1. Fine Lines
      2. Beaded Seal Fur, Judge’s Choice: Andrea L. Ferber
    73. Carol Wren (Curyung Tribal Council, Iñupiaq), IG @inupiaqgirl
      1. Dog Mushing
      2. Pretty Kitty
      3. Blueberries for Days

Award Winners

Howard La FortuneClick here or on the picture to see all the award winners together. Judging the photographs of masks was daunting considering how many incredible artworks are in this show. Some of the mask makers are professional artists and some are making functional masks and entering this virtual exhibition on a lark. FAAM appreciates you all!

This exhibition was sponsored and funded by First American Art Magazine and one generous member of our editorial advisory board. We would like to thank all the artists, judges, and mask makers everywhere. Wear your masks to protect your community and let’s strive for a safer, healthier future!

Links

Virtual yuraq

A virtual yuraq, or Alaska Native dance, with protective cloth masks. Image courtesy of Carol Wren (Iñupiaq, Curyung Tribal Council).

The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting different Indigenous communities particularly hard. Some of the many groups who are helping Native communities include:

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9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    These are all so amazing !.. In my heart ..they are all winners … Are any of these for sale ? If so , is there a link?kind regards .

    • Avatar

      The main page for the exhibition has social media links for the artists, so you can contact them directly and inquire if they have masks available. Many of the masks pictured here are sold, but many artists are making multiple masks and might have other ones available. Good luck!

    • Avatar

      The main page for the exhibition has social media links for the artists, so you can contact them directly and inquire if they have masks available. Many of the masks pictured here are sold, but many artists are making multiple masks and might have other ones available. Good luck!

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