Issue 1: Isolation
Issue 1: Isolation

The Mask Becomes Us

Finding our identity in the pandemic’s most ubiquitous garment.

Photographs by Mark Grochowski.

Photograph by Jordana Munk Martin
The mask may be Covid-19's most compelling textile story. This small piece of cloth has come to symbolize our current global state. Beyond its function of disease prevention, the tiny garment is a marquis of personal identity, a billboard announcing our allegiances. Where our mouths are hidden from view, the mask has come to speak for us. As the pandemic restructures our economies and our priorities, the mask belies our preferences, politics, and cultural identities. The mask separates us from communal air just as it filters our every breath into it. It is now its own form of art.
Artist Rachel Ehlin-Smith hand wove live flowers into this mask to bring calm to its wearer through aromatherapy - connection to the earth through scent. @mrblueskye

Icelandic textile artist Ýr Jóhannsdóttir made masks to cope with the emotions and  isolation she experienced in quarantine. @yrurari

Referred to as ‘digital love letters,’ costume designers and lovers Andrew Jordan and Iggy Soliven made these masks for one another as a way of being together when quarantine kept them apart. @slythytoves @ouget

Nigerian-American designer Mapate Diop makes masks from ankara, traditional West-African printed fabric, to celebrate his heritage while integrating it into a uniquely American streetwear style. @weardiop

Designer Rami Kashou celebrates cultural identity in limited-edition masks which emulate a modern day version of the traditional Palestinian thobe. @ramikashou

Japanese Designer Prospective Flow made this mask and matching hat, bringing friendliness and human emotion back to the masked face. @prospectiveflow @mutsu_by_pf

Artist Kate Kretz cathartically rips apart MAGA hats and reconstructs them in an effort to confront the Americans who are complicit in the administration’s cruelty and destruction of our democracy. @katekretzartist