Creative Face Masks
Words by Cristina Rodo
February 22, 2022
The first lockdown, in Portugal, started in mid-March 2020. In the following 71 days I would only leave the house once a week, to shop for groceries.
This pandemic happened so fast, one day a concern on the other side of the globe, the next banging on our door, that we didn’t have the time to really assimilate what was going on. The first time I went out, into the deserted streets, to a huge supermarket where the few people there all wore masks and silently avoided each other on the aisles, it felt like if I was in a disaster movie, it didn’t feel real.
For a couple of days, I felt completely lost, my mood swinging between fear, anguish, bad temper, and a sensation of terrible helplessness. I was going crazy not knowing what to do with my everyday life.
But then, past the initial shock, I decided to get the best out of it. So, I immersed myself in my art body and soul, something I can’t afford to do in “normal” times. I enrolled on online courses, practiced, experimented, created, all day long.
Fiber Art Fever launched an international Coronavirus masks competition on Facebook. When I saw the open call, H.R. Giger’s Facehugger from Alien immediately popped into my mind. A scary as hell life sucker, that sticks to your face taking your breath away, seemed perfect to represent the dreadful virus. I hurried making it since I was convinced many more would show up, turns out mine was actually the only one.
Although it didn’t win the competition, it turned viral, getting a lot of attention online. Websites like Bored Panda, Business Insider and Mashable interviewed me about it, it was all over the place when you talked about creative face masks.
Until someone from the Greve Museum, in Denmark, noticed it and invited me to participate in their Covid Design exhibition.
The Vicki Myhren Gallery, in Denver, also wanted it, but I had already committed to the previous and the dates overlapped. So, I created a completely new one, on the same concept, for their MASK exhibition. I called this one Covidus and take special pride in it, since it’s of my own design. The first one was like a tribute to Giger’s work, which I immensely admire, but it didn’t really feel like mine.
The Spanish flu often comes to my mind when I start losing it a little, it must have been so much harder, so lonelier then. Not even considering the huge importance of the internet regarding social relationships, it made it possible for people to stay active and productive while being physically isolated from everything.
My art protected me from the dreadful psychological effects of this global scale nightmare and, simultaneously, the pandemic put me on the map regarding visibility and international recognition of my work.
About The Artist
Cristina Rodo is a Portuguese fiber artist, born and raised in Lisbon. She’s a late bloomer since, despite an artistic education, first in photography and later in fashion and textile design, she ended up in front of a computer, doing non-creative work, for most of her life.
In 2017 fibre art caught her attention. She started experimenting with all kinds of techniques like crochet, knitting, weaving, and tatting to create artwork. Ultimately it was wet felting she fell in love with and has been exploring, almost exclusively, for the last few years. In addition to four solo exhibitions in Portugal, she participated in two international group exhibitions, is a featured artist at MuTE (textile museum online) and was selected by Fiber Art Now as an emerging artist 2020.