The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update


July 17, 2014

'Imaskinating' Art

Berky exhibit highlights mask making as an art form

ANDERSON -- Doug Berky considers his performances an art form.

So when Anderson Center for the Arts Director Deborah Stapleton asked if he’d be interested in an exhibition of his masks, the actor was hesitant.

“The first thing I said was, ‘They’re going to look dead,” Berky said, “because the masks are created to move and to be inhabited by an actor. It’s not like piece of art.”

As a mask maker, Berky said he was a little skeptical about the “Doug Berky’s Imaskinations” exhibit, which opened July 6 and runs through Aug. 15.

After seeing them on display at the Center for the Arts, though, Berky said it may garner the interest of people who don’t know much about masks.

Smaller masks hang on the walls, while some of his larger, more complex pieces are on full display. Some are accompanied by photos, taken by photographer Larry Stuart, of Berky being expressive in the masks to show the full art form.

Silver “metaphysical masks” devoid of any expression occupy the north wall of the gallery, alongside a description explaining that they’re based on fencing masks and they help actors rely on being expressive through body language instead of their facial expressions.

But just a few feet down, “expressive masks” are on full display, depicting strong attitudes and emotions. A written description explains they’re not only used as a training tool for actors to physically display the expressions, but that some of them are used to help students with autism to become more familiar and comfortable with how emotions are revealed and expressed.

Some of the exhibit’s masks got a break from being on display July 7 when Berky used them to perform for kids at the art center.

In the middle of his exhibit, children stared in wonder as Berky warmed up by juggling, explaining to them that if he messed up, they should chime in telling him it’s all right.

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