Ritual Expressions Events

Images

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The various images that are displayed here are from the rituals done at America’s Stonehenge and Earthlands over the last couple of years. The masks span a much larger time frame and more can be viewed on the main site, http://www.ritualexpressions.com/re/masks_010.asp.  A video clip of the tree performance can be seen at videoAs I veered away from painting and the gallery world, mask became the vehicle to embody a magical realm that could invigorate our literal existence.
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Throughout my life, I mourned the loss of our connection with the natural world and the rituals that celebrated it through elaborate dances, costumes and masks.  In the Netherlands I grew up with village rituals steeped in Christianity, st Nicolas, and Mardi Gras with its masks that I did not relate to.  When I arrived at the US, everything fell away for me.  It was through two amazing wedding ceremonies and a funeral ritual that I found my entry into ritual by creating my own wedding ceremony and  something awakened in me that was a natural match.  I decided to create a world that I liked and bring back ritual and mask that honored the natural world.
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The making of my masks grew out of ritual.  It was a Winter Solstice in which I created a Sun Shield where I symbolically wanted to dance the sun back to its proper track when I realized it could not be me dancing it.  I created my first mask, a Sun Mask, made of chicken wire, fabric, rice paper, paint, seeds and raffia.  West Africans tell me it is a Sun Mask from either Mali or Burkina Faso.  I told them I never saw that image before.
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The masks seem to be pulled out of the other world.  They lack human resemblance and it is sometimes not clear who these beings are.  Their otherworldly appearance makes many uncomfortable as the other world is not a friendly cozy place.  The Ocean Mask, made of paper mâché, is an example of that.  The masks are enough of an interim between their world and ours that we can still relate to them. It is through performance and ritual that people begin to recognize them and give them names.  The Dragon is an example of it, as I was thinking of an Asian Fire Deity, people kept seeing a dragon in it.  Many of them have been part of shrines in powerful rituals.  I began to discover a use for it in ritual and seeing the power that came from it as something else took over.
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The part that interests me is that I create masks so spirit has a vehicle to interact through and that it not only transforms the wearer but also the people who interact with the spirit in the mask.  Since I am not a person who sees other worldly beings these masks keep the other world accessible and alive for me.  They keep me open to the realm of magic and possibilities and bring a richness that goes beyond our literal way of living.
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