One Read participants get creative with ‘Unmasked’ art workshop

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The Friends Room at the Columbia Public Library was filled last Saturday with piles of fabric, balls of yarn, tables covered in paper, glue and other craft supplies and puppets. But this workshop wasn’t for children – it was a craft session for adults as part of the library’s One Read program.

April Karlovit, a puppeteer with more than 40 years of experience, led the workshop.

“Masks are mirrors of puppets, and puppets are mirrors of us,” Karlovit said. “We take a read on the mask and we can tell so much about the character.”

To help readers explore the theme of identity in Dan Chaon’s “Await Your Reply,” One Read hosted Unmasked, a mask-making art workshop. Participants chose from a variety of blank masks and craft supplies to create their own characters and identities.

Participants attended not just to explore identity but also to have fun and be creative. Amy Sharland, 23, came because she said she was “interested in exploring different sorts of arts expressions.”

Sharland decoupaged a cardboard skull mask with newspaper, then covered it with fabric to create a realistic but stripped-down, human-like face.

Participants used other masks, puppets and books about puppets in the room for inspiration.

Sean Burns, 37, is an MU doctoral student in Library Information Sciences. He was inspired by Saul Steinberg and Inge Morath’s “Masquerade,” a book of photos of people wearing paper bag masks. Burns used strips of colored paper and net-like fabric to create a colorful paper bag mask.

Continuing with the theme of identity exploration, Karlovit related the participants’ masks to stories about their designers’ lives.

“(Mask making) becomes a truer journey of our subconscious, probably our conscious, too,” she said. “We are participating on so many levels, with so many stories. I don’t know that we can really separate ourselves from (the mask).”

The masks created at the art workshop will be on display for one week starting today at the Columbia Public Library.

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