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Inspired by artist’s work, DVAA launches Corona Mask Contest

  • Artist Corina Alvarezdelugo’s mask titled “Domestic Violence Awareness” is made from microfiber, thread, rubber bands and sumi ink. Contributed Photo

  • Alvarezdelugo’s mask titled “I can see you … stay home,” is made from microfiber, thread and googly eyes. Contributed Photo

  • Artist Corina Alvarezdelugo’s mask titled “Grateful for essential workers II,” is made from repurposed cardboard and leather. Contributed Photo

  • Artist Corina Corina Alvarezdelugo’s mask titled “No Trespassing,” made from copper wire, moss, rusted nails and elastic ribbon. Contributed Photo

  • Alvarezdelugo’s mask titled “Medusa,” is made from rubber snake toys and yarn. Contributed Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 6/19/2020 3:40:23 PM

To protect themselves and others from COVID-19, many people have been making their own masks with creative designs or styles, but Venezuelan-American artist Corina Alvarezdelugo has taken mask-making to a new artistic, albeit non-functional, level.

Inspired by her masks, the Deerfield Valley Art Association’s Center for the Arts in Northfield has partnered with Alvarezdelugo to host a Corona Mask Contest. Alvarezdelugo, who now lives in Connecticut, had displayed her work in DVAA’s exhibits previously.

Marge Anderson, DVAA exhibit coordinator, said designs must be submitted by Jul 10. Contest rules require the submitted mask be made from objects found in your home, vehicle or yard. The contest is open to everyone, with two divisions — teens and adults (ages 13 and over) and youth (ages 12 and under).

Roughly one month into quarantine, Alvarezdelugo started creating a new face mask each day, using materials from around her home, as a way of reflecting on the time in isolation.

“We are all being asked to wear masks, so I decided to use the mask to respond to what I hear in the news, how I feel, or just to keep my hands and mind busy as well as teach myself to crochet,” she said.

While Alvarezdelugo, who is pursuing her master’s degree in art and design at Lesley University in Cambridge, normally works in a shared studio space, she hasn’t been able to use her studio since the COVID-19 health crisis began. Instead, she created a secluded work space in the corner of her apartment, where she said she can withdraw into herself and her work.

By using unexpected materials from around her home, Alvarezdelugo said she is, in some ways, responding to Theodore Roosevelt’s quote of “do what you can with what you have, where you are.” The masks are evolving daily as she uses materials that have been collected and saved for years, or recycled materials from things consumed while sheltered in place.

“By turning this material-based process into a performance while indexing my time in isolation, these face masks play with ambiguity and symbolism as they won’t protect us from the virus,” Alvarezdelugo said. “They are intended to play with contradiction and allegory, representing the times we are living in.”

As an artist, she said she likes to create visual statements that stir people’s minds and make them think, feel and connect to issues that society faces. Alvarezdelugo said she sees the series as a “performance piece” that continues to grow and change each day, as does the world around us. Alvarezdelugo said her job as an artist “gets even more exciting” when the masks are shared with the public.

She has now completed around 38 masks, turning to ever-stranger materials and designs, all built in the shape of a surgical mask. She posts a new mask to her Instagram, featuring both front-facing and profile views of her wearing her non-functional creations, nearly every day.

One mask is made from cardboard, while others are woven out of caution tape or rubber snakes. Another is completely covered in googly eyes. One mask looks like a bird has built its nest in Alvarezdelugo’s mouth as sticks and moss protrude from her face. Others promote a more serious message, such as the mask made to promote domestic violence awareness, which has a hand print over the wearer’s mouth.

Corona Mask Contest participants must take a photo of their mask, wearing it or not, and send it in JPEG format to margedvaa@gmail.com by July 10. Prizes will be awarded in each division, as well as to a People’s Choice winner. Finalists will be determined by the judges panel that will include Alvarezdelugo. Judges have the right to refuse entries deemed offensive or inappropriate.

“A big takeaway is to do what they can with what they have, where they are,” Alvarezdelugo advised contest participants, “and to use their imagination and creativity, especially during these trying times.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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