The Art Galleries at Texas Christian University has a new exhibit that takes its inspiration from the face masks worn to protect against COVID-19. It's called CREATE + PROTECT: Fashioning Safety in Times of Pandemic.
"I wanted to create something beautiful with just something, like, so simple," freshman Claudia Rodriguez said. "Art has really just helped me express my emotions and, like, my creativity."
Rodriguez got an honorable mention for an art mask she made in the shape of a wolf head. The fashion merchandising major never imagined face masks would be part of the fashion industry.
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"Not really," Rodriguez said. "Because you usually use face masks in the hospital to protect against germs and stuff."
For another artist featured in the exhibit, it's personal. Lisa Farry-Jennings is a nurse anesthetist.
"I was doodling one day and just started drawing a picture of an N95 mask," Farry-Jennings said. "Where I'm sitting, I've got cabinets of masks that were empty not that many months ago."
Some of Farry-Jennings work makes a statement about whether those N95 masks are, in fact, reusable.
"I think it just helped me sort of get through feelings or express feelings or worries," Farry-Jennings said of her art.
Some of the work is comical. There's a mask made from a bag of cheese twists. Another is whimsical, with eyeballs covering the mask. Some of the art is political; a surgical mask with a newspaper clipping questioning the cost of COVID-19.
Rodriguez hopes those who see her art leave with one thought. "I want them to know that there's hope," Rodriguez said.