BC Indigenous artist creates 'Corona Virus Mask' inspired by COVID-19 pandemic

Artist's virus-inspired mask

The latest creation from a B.C.-based Indigenous artist is inspired by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Vancouver’s David A. Neel has created the 'Corona Virus Mask', using old-growth red cedar, according to CTV News Vancouver.

The mask depicts a red and black face equipped with red horns, red-lined nostrils, pointy ears and a sneering mouth.

Neel is a member of the Kwakwaka?wakw, or Kwakiutl, First Nation and he is also a jeweller, photographer, writer and print maker. He says his vision of the project changed from the time he started the project in April 2020 to when he completed the mask earlier this month.

"During that time, the pandemic, and the measures that were implemented affected the entire world," he said. "It has become the single most impactful and significant event in contemporary world history.”

Neel says art is meant to create symbols that represent the people and events of their time.

"This event has been so overwhelming that it is difficult to comprehend; that is why we need symbolism," he said, quoting psychologist Carl Jung.

According to Neel, Indigenous art in northwestern B.C. has provided powerful symbolism “since ancient times.”

"My ancestors carved masks to represent times of hunger, disease (smallpox), and portrait masks to represent loved ones.”

He says he's following in his ancestors footsteps, by creating a mask focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.

-With files from CTV News Vancouver

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