The Mask Project: Art as Political Satire

The Monkey Mask (#1)

Masks are on everyone’s mind these days. I thought I would post a series of mask design ideas from my old ceramic days. I think these could be transferred to fabric patterns and printed. Since Trump has made monkey’s out of the whole country, I thought I’d start with this. (and really, nothing stops virus transmission like a quarter inch thickness of ceramic!) All you need is some added weather stripping and caulking compound to make a breathless seal….Experts are working on this and we will have a solution in a year or two…I hope…I guess we’ll see…

Dead Ancient Warrior Mask (#2)

Crafted in durable, fashionable raku ceramic, this mask will really turn heads when you arrive in an overcrowded space. To anyone who tries to get too close or is not wearing a mask, it sends a ‘clear concise message:’*

“Stay the f%&k away from me you ignorant, dangerous, sniveling, whimpering, Trump-loving, boot-licking, mewling lapdog, right-wing a$$hole whelp!” People might even wonder if there really is a living face behind THIS mask! It’s the right choice for everyone! (only one in stock—it’s that supply chain thing—not our problem.)

*Note: the expressions ‘clear concise message’ and ‘you ignorant, dangerous, sniveling, whimpering, Trump-loving, boot-licking, mewling lapdog, right-wing a$$hole whelp!’ are registered advertising trademarks of the “Happy-Lucky Trading Co.” Stay safe!

Lenin Lookalike Mask (# 3)

This stunning raku mask will have people avoiding you in droves! A genuine, authentic, substitute replica of someone who kinda, sorta, looks like Vladimir Lenin. This mask will alarm Trump fans and his Russian allies alike. Even though foreign, socialist notions of justice and economic equality remain endemic wherever fairness remains in vogue, fear of the dire menace of Socialism is still one of the best ways to strike dread into the mask-less masses. Although our revolutionary design is admittedly a bit heavy, uncomfortable, and unwieldy, anyone who has ever ridden in a “Trabant” will feel right at home in it. Intellectually intimidating! One of our best sellers!  From the “Happy/Lucky Trading Co.” where our motto is always “Be Happy and Lucky!” (and stay safe!)

Mad Killer Clown Mask (# 4)

Hardly any traditional folk hero is more beloved by Americans than the legendary “Mad Killer Clown.” From great American literary classics like “Charlies Angels,” to “Beretta,” to “Starsky and Hutch,” he has haunted the national psyche for years. There is definitely something fishy about this “Mad Killer Clown” Mask—and that is why it will absolutely repel people who might be near you. If you want to create a little privacy for yourself at your local amusement park or at Disney World, this is the mask for you! The Americans love the “Mad Killer Clown” motif so much they actually elected one to be President! From the “Happy/Lucky Trading Co.,” where our motto is always “Be Happy and Lucky!” (and stay safe!)

The Gentle Rabbit of Reprimand (# 5)

My talented wife Carol made this adorable ceramic mask. As she explained it, some people respond more positively to a message when it is put in a gentle, nuanced way. OK. I get it. I admit that not everyone wants to disguise themselves as a dead ancient warrior king or a mad killer clown just to keep people away from them. This, then, is the perfect mask for people who like a kinder gentler approach. The vast ears, when liberally slathered with hand sanitizer, will simply scoop enormous amounts of virus out of the air—where they will adhere and die! Meanwhile the soft brown eyes and adorable bunny nose will gently reprove non-mask wearers for their serious breach of good manners. The reasoned reproach revealed in this irreproachable rodent’s eyes should make even the hardest-hearted non-mask wearer ruefully reconsider their reprehensible behavior. They will send a ‘clear and concise message’: “Wear a f%*king mask you a**&#ole!”. For those who still have a little kindness left in your heart, the “Rabbit of Reprimand” mask is the perfect choice for you.

Central Asian Brigand (# 6)

The daunting visage of this sneering nogoodnik will elicit deep primal fears in anyone you happen upon in a shady store aisle. It is specially designed to remind you of all the scourges of mankind that have emerged in the eastern steppes and moved west to prey upon Western civilization—the Huns, the Mongols, the Black Death, the Kardashians, canned “Vienna” sausages… In addition to its generally threatening aspect, our unique raku finish suggests the presence of skin conditions you never want to come in contact with. The Asian connection makes it exceptionally effective when you are forced to mingle with the xenophobic hordes of a typical American mall! From the “Happy/Lucky Trading Co.,” where our motto is always “Be Happy and Lucky!” (and stay safe!)

The “Deep Ones” Mask (# 7)

Few American writers evoked the timeless eldritch horror of the supernatural world, or spoke as long-windedly of the nameless, unspeakable, mute epochs of ancient terror as effectively and loquaciously as the late, great American author H.P. Lovecraft. This timeless mask references all the dread of his endlessly wordy, adjective laden prose and especially the ghastly, blood-chilling quality of his “deep ones” –the horrid breed of semi-humanoids that resulted from the unholy conjunction of sex-starved New England whaling crews with the horrific, fish-faced denizens of the remote South Pacific. It’s sure to be highly repellent to crowds of ordinary American shoppers. This mask will immediately mark you as a real weirdo with questionable literary tastes! What more can we say? “Be Happy and Lucky!” (and stay safe!)

Tweet, Twitter, Twit (#8)

In this world of twitters and tweets, you can find some refuge by just pretending to be a twit. Nothing says “Twit” better than this forgettable bird mask. Unlike our other masks, the idea here is to just fade into the moronic background. No big ninja moves, or even gentle reprimands. This mask simply says, “ignore me.” Because you are wearing a mask at all means you are of above average intelligence…but there is no need to rub it in. So what if you pretend to be a bird brain for a quick trip to the store? The mask-less will not be offended, they will feel right at home! And those that are masking will appreciate your nod in their direction as well. Just stay cool amid all the cackle and flutter, keep your distance, and maybe this will all just go away in the summer sun! “Be Happy and Lucky!”

The Devil You Say? (# 9)

We know from the examples of Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and southern California that nothing puts the lethal hit on this covid-19 like a good dose of summer heat—and nothing says REAL HEAT like the devil himself! This ‘devil may care’ mask will remind the mask-less who is really in charge. A wicked and timely reminder of someone they may soon meet in person (The Devil take them!). A great social distancer—except for people who kind of like that whole ‘dark side’ sort of thing. Remember, even when you are running with the devil, “Be Happy and Lucky!”  

The Medusa “Ex” Mask (# 10)

One of our few “gendered masks,” this is a powerful way for some women to stay safe from viruses and keep their emotional life on an even keel as well. We are all old enough to have suffered through a bad relationship—but you needn’t be a captive of it—you can turn all that anger where it rightly belongs—on your “ex.” This mask evokes all the horrors of Greek mythology and uses them as a powerful prophylactic against that virus as well as that ‘G$d d%#n son of a b*&#h’ you see rounding the end of the store aisle and heading towards you. He won’t see your kind gentle face—he’ll see something that looks like the Medusa (a glance at HER face turned viewers to stone!) It may remind him of the harpies, the furies, or the maenads (who tore people who irritated them to shreds)! You won’t have to struggle with all that conditioning and guilt that says women must smile and never show their anger. Let the mask SCREAM for you! Now he’ll be the one fleeing away from you down the aisle. At 5 pounds, this is one of our heavier masks—but that will help you practice that ‘balancing a book on your head when you walk’ routine that kept your posture so perfect! This mask solves a plethora of problems!

(Note: We did try to market a male version, but they really didn’t sell. We realized that most males who have caused really bad relationships are ugly anyway—and also the kind of people that wouldn’t wear a mask.) Medusa really turns the tables on them—it evokes all the fear of litigation (and keeps them from recognizing you at all). (Note: The Happy Lucky Trading Co. has applied for proprietary rights for the phrase ‘G$d d%#n son of a b*&#h’. Stay Happy and Lucky!

The Frogman Face Mask (# 11)

With another nod to H.P. Lovecraft’s “deep ones,” this mask is really the mask of the future. Right now, we should probably all be wearing an aqualung. Sure, one fine sunny day the coronavirus will magically disappear. After that, we still need to come to terms with global warming and the rising sea-level. Given our pathetic performance with this virus, do you really think we can deal with that…? Here at the Happy/Lucky Trading Co., we think NOT! We see a day coming soon when we will all be treading water. This mask will save you today and tomorrow! Our patented “gill system”* not only “filters out viruses”**, it “allows you to breathe under water!”*** That’s right! While none of this technology has been tested or approved by the FDA, and the asterisked phrases above are just marketing jargon that was never meant to taken literally, we are working hard on this stuff! Really! We think a solution is in sight, just around the corner, down around the bend, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, certainly by election day. So, hang in there and stay Happy and Lucky! (Especially Lucky! Really, really, lucky.)

Sun-Worshipper Mask (#12)

This uplifting mask idea was inspired by the art of Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920). By now, you may think the people at the Happy/Lucky Trading Co. have some pretty bleak ideas about our present situation and the future that awaits us. Nothing could be further from the truth! We want to end on a lighter note, so this is for all the people who choose to remember to ‘look a little on the sunny side’. Sure, every generation has its wars, tyrants, and pandemics—but meanwhile, think about all the beauty in life! After all, if you want to stay truly safe from Covid-19 AND all the ugly people who are loose in the world today, the answer is easy—just stay home and maintain a large distance from others. Then you don’t really need a mask at all. In fact, you don’t need to wear anything at all! In the famous words of the song from the rock opera “Hair.”

“Kids, be free/ Be whoever you are/ Do whatever you want to do/just so long as you don’t hurt anybody.”

So there. You’ll have all the rights and liberties you could ask for—and even a little nudity if you like that sort of thing. Stay Happy and Lucky! (Yes, it’s not really a mask—just a pretty face.)

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