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This body of work explores the role of the mask and reverses its purpose. Traditionally, a mask is worn over the face to conceal the wearer’s identity or to cover up unsightly features. In my paintings, the masks become representative of the characteristics of the wearer’s soul or personality. Each hints at some inner strength or flaw of the person depicted. The traits that he or she may have wished to remain hidden are revealed. I draw influence from the fact that throughout the ages the eyes have been called the windows to the soul. Since I am dealing with the characteristics or archetypes of people’s souls, I always leave the eyes open so the viewer can peer straight through to the fabric. They are empty inside because the subject’s innermost being is on public display, and there is nothing left to hide.
The masks I depict tend to be from ancient cultures. The ancient appearance of the masks is offset by the subjects’ contemporary garments. Fashion and status are of importance; they are representative of upper class society and how far that society has advanced, materially. The high-class business attire of the models is disconnected with the ancient and tribal masks and juxtaposes the so-called primitive with the refined. My theory is that no matter how far society has evolved, certain basic human instincts and personality traits typically associated with ancient cultures still prevail. Archetypes recur age after age no matter how advanced the society. Ultimately, we have not come as far as we think.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Alea Hurst began her journey into drawing and painting eight years ago. She produces two-dimensional works, particularly drawings and paintings, which range from traditional to experimental. She recently received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Georgia in Athens. Her work has been exhibited in various places and publications including Hartsfield-Jackson airport and Mason Murer Fine Art’s Fresh Blood. Her current work focuses on reversing the roles of masks in order to comment on the evolution of society.