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Masks adorn Needham Library

By Emily Rast
Hometown Weekly Intern

If you visited the Needham Free Public Library last month, chances are you may have noticed some new faces. 

The library welcomed an art exhibit in July entitled “The World of Masks”, a collection that honored the use of masks in different international cultures. With their range of colors and animated expressions, the masks in this fantastic exhibit brought loads of personality to the gallery space.

These skillfully crafted masks come from Senior Case Manager Eric Dwinnells and his Community Based Day Services (CBDS) program at Advocates. Advocates is a Massachusetts-based organization that “provides a broad range of services” for “people who face developmental, mental health, or other life challenges”. Eric has worked with adults with developmental differences for over twenty years.

On the off-chance the word “mask” has been evoking a certain modern implication for you, you are not alone! The exhibit’s artist statement explains that Eric led this project as a response to the continued masking policy at Advocates, with the intention of letting the program participants consider historical and cultural implications of the mask. All of the pieces in this exhibit were hence labeled with the names of the artists, the materials used, and the mask’s international origins. Many of the artworks were also accompanied by a brief explanation of what purpose the mask traditionally serves in its respective country, along with any other unique details that the artists chose to share. The hard work of these creators meant that not only did they give the library a great gallery display, but their work doubled as an educational tool, giving library visitors a culturally rich perspective on masking.

The diligence of these artists was clear, but the fun that they appeared to have in this creative process stood out, as well. This was emphasized by the variety of materials used throughout the collection, including some found materials, like sheet music and sticks. Each mask was created by different artists, and each mask had its own story to tell. The participants in the CBDS program let their personalities shine through in their creations, resulting in a collection that seemed to jump right off the library wall and say hello.

Keep an eye on the library’s gallery space for more art in the month of August.

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