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Photographer Mike Sullivan, who was just lately in India, makes use of his masks to discover the performative nature of id

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The method of masks making began out very impulsively for Mike. And really quickly it grew to become an extension of himself, and a solution to talk with the world

The method of masks making began out very impulsively for Mike. And really quickly it grew to become an extension of himself, and a solution to talk with the world

Shards of mirrors, feathers, jewels, delicate leaves and flowers. These are the objects American artist and photographer Mike Sullivan, 28, makes use of to inform his tales, with the assistance of the masks and headpieces he fashions.

To Mike, these will not be simply objects of magnificence, however a secure area for the wearer. “Individuals are extremely weak after we are creating a picture collectively. Masks and crowns assist them really feel an internal sense of liberation and self price,” he says. Mike visited India initially of the yr, and the three weeks he spent between Kerala, Goa and Karnataka grew to become an impromptu inventive residency.

He explored native flower markets, jewelry retailers and collaborated with artists alongside the way in which, together with Goa-based photographer Pretika Menon. “I created excess of I anticipated and am extraordinarily grateful for the way open individuals had been,” he says.

It was his coaching in theatre in Ithaca Faculty, New York, adopted by a semester at Ithaca Faculty London Middle, that led him to develop deeply all for masks making. “For a Shakespeare/Grecian part of the semester, we needed to create and carry out in our personal masks, which was the primary leg in my journey as a masks maker.”

Free expression

Experimenting in Bengaluru

Experimenting in Bengaluru
| Picture Credit score: Mike Sullivan

London grew to become his playground to experiment along with his queer id and gender expression. “I used to be of authorized age to enter queer areas for the primary time, and the primary masks I made and wore out in public was in London. I used to be assembly individuals from the group, sporting heels, taking part in with make-up, experimenting with drag tradition. Drag is a method for individuals to precise themselves, and a crown may be one other instrument to assist convey an individual to that place of free expression.”

The method of masks making began out very impulsively for Mike. And really quickly it grew to become an extension of himself, and a solution to talk with the world round him .

Nature has at all times been a leitmotif in Mike’s typically fragile items, having grown up by the riverside, with marshes and woods throughout. “I grew up mountaineering with associates, foraging for wasp nests and making monster faces with lifeless flowers and crab legs.”

The stigma round queer expression led to him to include nature. “As a result of nature is a young, common language that’s accessible to all people. I had political variations with family members however I didn’t need to write them off. I needed to make my queer expression palpable to them regardless of our totally different ideologies. So I began utilizing nature and flowers as a solution to destigmatise being queer.”

Life occasions nudged him alongside his creative journey. “My apply deepened in Provincetown [Massachusetts], the place you get to be seen and celebrated. Folks engaged with my work and I received to grasp their notion of it.”

Mike Sullivan’s Wan in Kerala

Mike Sullivan’s Wan in Kerala
| Picture Credit score: Mike Sullivan

The pandemic and its isolation additionally led Mike to deepen his apply. “Pre-pandemic, I used to be in a position to make use of crowns and collaborate extra often with others. However with social distancing turning into the norm, the main focus was introduced again to masks. My mother and father helped {photograph} me whereas I wore the items.” Mike additionally discovered his previous jewelry field throughout lockdown, and began sporting the items and utilizing them in his masks. “The jewels add a layer of decoration and storytelling. I additionally use classic garments as a result of it opens up totally different interpretations to the picture,”

Mike presently works with cardboard, foil, discovered objects and versatile supplies that make the piece much less inflexible; however he would finally wish to make extra sculptural artwork items. “I’d like to see my work in galleries, museums and even motion pictures. However on the core, I would like it to be a method for individuals to precise themselves deliberately and safely. It’s necessary for individuals to launch themselves from inhibitions and embrace creativity.”

The author runs The Alipore Submit and began Chitthi Change, a penpal mission, to assist individuals join in the course of the pandemic.

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