A Professional Mask-Maker, Process, and Inspiration
By Richard Malinsky, Arts Editor
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It’s not often we have a website submitted for review by a master mask-maker—Lauren Raine’s site is a visual feast of creativity. Raine (pictured) details actual events she’s directed herself around her collections, such as Masks of the Goddess; as well as fascinating background story to many of her masks, which are also for sale on her site. “I’ve always seen masks as ‘vessels for our stories,’” she states, deriving much of her inspiration from mythology. “Masks have so much transformative power. One might say that they are like cups, waiting to be filled.”
Her masks are made with the traditional Italian Renaissance technique of forming leather over a plaster cast of the client’s face. The leather is sculpted, then set and painted. The site offers a link to see an overview of this process.
The Masks of the Goddesses had its inception in 2000, when Raine worked with mask artists in Bali and witnessed how masks were created to represent mythological characters in Balinese theater and dance. The series of thirty masks were created to re-claim and re-invent important stories, as well as to empower women to explore archetypes within themselves. She describes them as contemporary “Temple Masks” devoted to celebrating feminine deities throughout the world for a multi-cultural audience. The collection traveled throughout the United States.
The process of art can mean many things to artists, and for Raine, art-making is most often a spiritual practice. Many of her works serve as devotionals, including the series Earth Shrines that recalls our source in the earth.
This concept “Spirit of Place” evolved into the series Numina: Masks for the Elemental Powers. Many early and indigenous cultures share the concept that gods and goddesses arose from the powers of wind, earth, fire, and water. Thus the Numina masks invite others to join in a “mythic conversation” with the Spirits of Place.
Lauren Raine is a Southwestern artist, so it’s not a surprise that she was inspired by the Native American creatrix—“Spider Woman.” Raine sees the Hands of the Spider Woman series as a metaphor for our time. In Pueblo mythology it was Spider Woman who led the people through the birth canal into the next world.
Lauren Raine is a painter, sculptor, mask maker, performance artist, author, and choreographer represented in international private and public collections. She has an MFA in Painting and Cross Discipline Arts from the University of Arizona.
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