As COVID-19 continues to ravage our nation, artists are using their talents to document the times. Visual artist, Jessica Wimbley, takes on the hot topic of wearing masks in her video piece, “Masking, 2020.”
“In the video, I am asking a series of questions: How does the mask function as a medium in our lives, as a cultural and political signifier, a holder of memory? What does it mean to wear a mask, be seen in a mask, and the transformation that occurs in the experience?” Said Wimbley.
The artwork uses found footage from news clips and the internet that articulate our current cultural milieu, juxtaposing the personal as a site of both shared and individual memory. Wimbley also touches on African traditions of the masquerade, in which the wearing of the mask is a spiritual experience.
“I use the literary term biomythography, defined by poet Audre Lorde as a combination of ‘biography, myth, and history,’ as an interdisciplinary visual arts practice,” said Wembley. “By using biomythography and the para-fictional, I investigate and question identity and history, merging both the genetic and biological with socio-historical, creating narratives that shift between micro and macro representations.”
Wimbley received her BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design, M.F.A in Visual Arts from the University of California, Davis, and her MA in Arts Management from Claremont Graduate University. Wimbley has been included in exhibitions at several institutions including the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, California State University at Long Beach, College of the Canyons Art Gallery, Ripon College, and other galleries and institutions across the United States.
“Masking, 2020” is one of the featured pieces in Mine and Yours, a mixed-media digital exhibition in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and our collective reconsiderations of health, security, and social structures. Mine and Yours is curated by Renae Barnard and will run through August 15, 2020.