This mask was inspired by the Night Traveler mask collected by Alphonse Louis Pinart (Louis Alphonse Pinart) sometime between 1871 and 1872. Without going into complete detail about the original night traveler masks, song, and story; (that will come later) I would like to share briefly how I believe it correlates with this new mask create in its memory.
Legend has it that the Night traveler mask is half blackened because it has faced the devil.
I relate this to the opioid crisis and how it is affecting each and every one of us in some way.
Native Americans and Alaska natives experience some of the highest rates of substance abuse, mental health disorders, and suicide. This is due to many factors, including loss of cultural identity, generational trauma, etc.
For this new mask, half of the mask is carved out with a forest and foliage and encased in resin. Deep within the resin is Sugpiaq masks made from sterling silver designed to represent people lost to the throws of addiction. These tiny masks, like the people they represent, are precious, valuable, important and unreachable.
Unreachable by their family, friends, mothers, and children. Unreachable by the professionals who are not equipped to help them but try anyways. Unreachable by those who would rather take their place than see them suffer.
This piece brings to light the frustrations felt by those who have lost someone to addiction. Let’s keep the conversation going; the opioid crisis is in full force and we are losing our people to it.
Though this is a very personal topic for many, it is important to consider sharing your stories.
If we don’t talk about the issues, they do not go away.
They continue to thrive and do damage.
Telling your truth can be empowering and healing.