"Anxiety Masks” is a series of sculptures that I started in April 2020 and I am continuing even now. The past two years has been a time of dis-ease. With the deadly and unpredictable nature of the pandemic combined with the contentious elections and then addition of heartbreaking eruptions around race, this series of masks has been a way for me to deal with anxiety. By covering the entire face, the safeguards for the virus are met but also they provide protection from violence and discrimination. The sculptures theoretically disguise differences such as race and gender and make everyone equal. I make these as a blessing and a protest. Obsessively keeping my hands busy has helped tame my own anxiety but also making these masks has given me the opportunity to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement, with women who are running for office and with those who are in the forefront of changing the status quo.
The Compulsive process of adornment manifests in beauty, humor and mystery. These surface textures cover a well of anxiety. It is my intention that the work simultaneously displays the anxiety of these times and the hope for a better future.
I gave birth to a daughter in the midst of the pandemic. Like many mothers around the world, I am now raising a child who has little opportunity for social interaction with people, let alone people not wearing a mask. She struggles to make sense of half-covered faces, encountered at a distance, and I am left wondering how this uncharted environment is shaping her emerging self-identity.
Linda Hall’s Anxiety Masks offer a similar form of protection to the ubiquitous medical mask, providing shelter from the world to those who wear them. Exquisitely crafted, they are also elaborate and whimsical, comforting for some and alienating for others. Although she has been making masks for years, her works now carry different meanings in a world where everyone wears one in public. The visual cues on which we traditionally depend to communicate are absent to us. In their place we are greeted now so often with an inscrutable masked face.
My photographs explore this body of work in varied environments—some private, some public, some commercial, some recreational—to see how they are transformed by different contexts. Unlike most face coverings, the Anxiety Masks cover the entire head and sometimes the whole body. Precisely because they are so idiosyncratic, they serve to replace the experience of expressive legibility.